Common Core Rattling Educators, ELL Teachers Unprepared

Survey says most educators feel unprepared for CCSS, especially ELL teachers.

78726889As students return to school from the Summer break and districts scramble to prepare for the full administration of the assessments aligned with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), a new survey shows that teachers are feeling less confident about CCSS than ever. Teachers of English language learners (ELLs) and students with disabilities are especially discouraged.

The report published by Education Week Research Center, “From Adoption to Practice: Teacher Perspectives on Common Core,” surveyed 457 teachers and instructional specialists in K-12 schools from states that have adopted the CCSS. Respondents included a group of educators who work in schools with diverse student populations, including rural, small town, suburban and urban schools of varying income levels. The survey asked about many aspects of the CCSS, such as familiarity with the standards and aligned assessments; curricular resources; professional development and training; preparedness for the new standards and assessments; and their impact on classroom instruction and student learning.

According to the findings, most respondents were familiar with the CCSS, but less familiar with the aligned assessments currently being developed by the two national consortia, Smarter Balanced and PARCC and 39% responded that they had no familiarity with the assessments. Less than half of respondents believe that their curricular materials and textbooks are aligned with the CCSS. Only 31% of respondents agreed that they have access to high-quality materials that are aligned with the CCSS.

The findings also reveal that educators feel overall underprepared to implement the CCSS and the aligned assessments, and that their professional development has been largely insufficient, with 68% having some training and wanting more. While the vast majority of respondents felt that all forms of professional development were helpful, 89% felt collaborative planning time with colleagues was important. The least popular format for professional development was via online webinar or video. The educators surveyed tend to trust other educators the most in evaluating if curricular materials align with the CCSS, while they trust curriculum providers and publishers the least.

Teachers of ELLs reported feeling the least confident about integrating the CCSS into their teaching. Over half of the ELL teachers surveyed felt unprepared. These findings are not surprising considering a dearth of CCSS-aligned material for ELLs. ELLs are subject to the same grade-level standards as their native English-speaking peers.

Overall, the findings show that teachers are more comfortable with the CCSS than they are with the aligned assessments. Respondents were more optimistic about the potential for improving instruction and student-learning outcomes with the CCSS than they were about the assessments. Furthermore, educators tend to trust in other educators in questions of professional development and lesson planning over curriculum development and assessment companies. Comparing the 2013 survey data with data from a year earlier, educators’ familiarity with the CCSS and the aligned assessments increased, as did their opportunities for professional development. However, respondents expressed a more pessimistic view about the quality of their training and in their students’ preparedness to master the CCSS.

To read the full report, click here.

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