Many teachers say they need training in Common Core standards, poll says

Most public school teachers feel unprepared to teach math and reading to the Common Core standards that are rolling out in 45 states and the District, according to a poll of 800 teachers released Friday by the American Federation of Teachers.

The new standards, written by a group of states and embraced by the Obama administration, set common goals for reading, writing and math skills that students should develop from kindergarten through high school graduation. Curriculum is left to the states. The standards emphasize critical thinking and problem solving and are supposed to encourage students to think deeply about fewer topics.

While a clear majority — 75 percent — of teachers surveyed by the union said they support the Common Core, less than one-third said their school districts have given them the training and resources to teach to the new standards.

Many states have begun implementing the standards. All participating states are expected to have them in place by 2014, when students will take new standardized tests based on the Common Core.

Two states — Kentucky and New York — have already tested students on the new standards. In New York, teachers, parents and students complained that the tests were poorly designed, covered material that had not been taught and frustrated children to the point of tears. Like many other states, New York intends to use the test results in decisions about student grade promotion, teacher job evaluations and school closings.

AFT President Randi Weingarten on Tuesday called for a moratorium on consequences for at least one year until teachers and students across the country are sufficiently steeped in the Common Core standards. Among the teachers polled, 83 percent supported the moratorium. The poll was conducted in March and included teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Weingarten, a supporter of the Common Core, said sloppy implementation threatens to turn the new standards into another failed education reform. “The last thing we need is for teachers and the public to lose confidence in something that can actually transform teaching and learning,” she said. “We’ve got to get it right.”

Lyndsey Layton has been covering national education since 2011, writing about everything from parent trigger laws to poverty’s impact on education to the shifting politics of school reform.
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