Most Americans don’t know the first thing about the Common Core State Standards, according to a recent Gallup poll, even though most public schools across the country will launch these new learning standards at the end of this month.
The Common Core State Standards initiative is a national effort being voluntarily implemented and managed by local school systems in 45 states and Washington, D.C.
In 2010, the Maryland State Board of Education became one of the first states to vote to adopt CCSS. Some schools have already begun rolling out the new curriculum.
All schools in the state will implement the standards (which set rigorous new learning goals in English/language arts and math for students in grades K-12) during the upcoming school year.
Yet the 45th annual PDK International/Gallup “Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools” found that 62 percent of adults surveyed said they’d never heard of the Common Core. Of the respondents who were familiar with the standards, many incorrectly believed the federal government mandated their implementation, according to the survey, which was released to the public Wednesday.
But because not all of the 1,001 survey respondents were parents, the results aren’t too surprising, said William Reinhard, spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education.
“It’s only being fully implemented this year,” he said. “And I don’t think it’s real surprising that non-parents wouldn’t know about the Common Core any more so than non-parents wouldn’t know about the current curriculum. It’s mostly parents who are involved in that.”
Reinhard said the MSDE has been working since 2010 to publicize the initiative, involving hundreds of teachers, administrators and parents. The department’s website puts the Common Core front and center.
“We’ve been working for three years on this,” he said. “This is not something we plan to roll out without having people aware… but we’re going to continue to get the word out to folks.”
The basic idea behind the new standards is to establish common expectations for what students should learn in each grade and how those concepts should be taught.
The focus is on helping students master basic concepts that will better prepare them for college and for careers in a global economy.
According to the survey, only 41 percent of Americans believe the Common Core will make schools more globally competitive. Yet 95 percent want schools to teach critical thinking skills, which is another major goal of CCSS.
The poll also examined public views about arming teachers to protect against school shooters (most Americans oppose that idea), the value of standardized testing (or lack thereof, according to the majority of respondents) and the merits of home-schooling (which most respondents support). To view the survey results in full, check out the PDK International website.