Polling Reinforces Support for High Standards

On August 24, 2015, Karen Nussle, Executive Director of the Collaborative for Student Success, issued the following memo on recently released poll results and the public’s opinions on state standards and accountability:

Over the past two weeks, four national education polls—Education Next, Center for American Progress/Public Policy Poling, The Seventy-Four and PDK/Gallup poll of America’s Attitudes toward the Public Schools—provided new information about public attitudes towards high standards and annual assessments. Each poll’s questions and audiences were unique, but their key takeaway was consistent: Support for high, consistent standards, by any name, remains strikingly strong.

  • Education Next found that opposition to Common Core remains the minority opinion, with nearly half of adults (49%) supporting Common Core.
  • According to The Seventy-Four, seven in 10 voters (69%) favor a national standard ensuring that students in different states learn the same skills.
  • Center for American Progress/Public Policy Polling found that eight in 10 voters (79%) agree that we should create a set of high quality academic standards or goals in English and math and let communities develop their own curriculum and strategies to meet these goals.

Two themes highlighted within these polls merit particular attention: 1) communities of color back high standards; and 2) misinformation clouds the perceptions of many.

Communities of Color Support High Standards

Large percentages of both African Americans and Hispanics surveyed by Education Next – 50 and 58 percent, respectively – support the standards. Notably, Hispanic support of the standards is 34 points higher than Hispanic opposition in this crucial electoral voting bloc. The Education Next poll also shows that communities of color strongly value the information provided by assessments. More than 90 percent of African Americans think public school students should be tested yearly to see if their schools are adequately serving students, compared to 78 percent of voters. African Americans and Hispanics are much more likely than whites – about 30 percent of both Black and Hispanic respondents compared to only 15 percent of white respondents – to believe that using standardized tests to measure student learning is important to improving public schools in their community.

Parents of color support high, consistent standards and the assessments aligned to measure their students’ progress toward those goals. Communities of color value the information provided by the assessments and know that comparable standards provide their community schools with important information to help close gaps in achievement that separate students of color and their white peers.

Misinformation Abounds

Few people have a deep knowledge base about Common Core – and misunderstandings and misconceptions continue to color opinions about the standards. Nearly 70 percent of respondents told The Seventy-Four that they favor a national standard ensuring students in different states learn the same skills, yet only 41 percent know what Common Core is – so upwards of 30 percent more people should support Common Core once they learn more about it. Similarly, Education Next found that more than half of respondents don’t know whether their district is using Common Core, including 39 percent of parents who aren’t sure.

Fortunately, the polls also tell us how we can ensure that the public is receiving correct information. Two-thirds of all adults and more than half of parents shared that they first heard about Common Core from friends, neighbors or relatives, media reports or social media. While we have all seen how easy it is for false reports of so-called Common Core-aligned assignments on topics not covered by the math and English Language Arts standards and test questions to circulate on social media, it’s important that news coverage of the standards, assessments, and their implementation is accurate. False or misleading information found in new stories published by trusted sources is detrimental to the important work that so many educators, administrators and state education officials have undertaken over the last five years. It’s really important that everyone is communicating clearly and accurately about Common Core State Standards, and correctly depicts their state-based creation and locally unique implementation.

In an effort to help reporters and others debunk many of the myths about the Common Core, the Collaborative for Student Success maintains a Fact Checker website at http://thecommoncore.com/.