AFT poll: Teachers unprepared for new standards

Most public school teachers say they’re not prepared to teach math and reading to the new Common Core standards, according to a survey by the American Federation of Teachers. While 75 percent of teachers surveyed by the union support the Common Core, less than one-third said they’d received the training and resources needed to teach to the new standards.

Forty-five states and the District of Columbia have adopted the new standards and many have started implementation.

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 has called for a testing moratorium for at least one year. Among teachers surveyed, 83 percent supported the moratorium.

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  1. GoogleMaster says:

    Here’s a thought: why don’t we first administer the Common Core standards tests to those who will be teaching the CC. If they fail, give them one second chance to brush up on whatever they need to pass the test on a retake. If they fail the retake, fire them.

    • They should at least take it once, just to see for themeselves what it’s all about, so they can figure out the best way to teach it…

  2. momof4 says:

    A current article in the WaPo, on the high failure rate on the various MoCo end-of-course HS math exams, had a comment from reader/MoCo math teacher saying that many teachers are teaching courses “beyond their comfort zone”, because MoCo has been pushing acceleration (algebra & geometry in MS), to push more kids into AP calc and AP stats. It’s a simple equation; more algebra and geometry classes and fewer lower-level classes= more teachers must teach algebra and geometry.

    • If things were working the way that they’re supposed to be, the Middle School teachers should have NO problem teaching any High School level Math. But, having the vast majority of Elementary & Middle School teachers not be able to handle Geometry and Algebra II on their own, much less teach it to students? That indicates that something its terribly wrong with our entire system…

  3. Ruth Joy says:

    And why is this bad news?

    • Mark Roulo says:

      Why is what bad news? That the teachers don’t think they are ready to teach the new standards? Or that lots of kids are flunking their high school math finals? I am clearly missing some context … 🙂

      • Ruth Joy says:

        That was a bit unclear, wasn’t it? There is enough wrong with the common core that the best thing might very well be the failure of teachers (intentionally or not)to implement it.

        • What would you say is wrong with the Common Core? I know that’s a loaded question, but I really want to know, so it’s OK to give me a loaded answer. 🙂

  4. Sharon R. says:

    A friend and I were looking at sample Common Core tests online yesterday, and… the sample questions looked pretty terrific to me. I was very pleasantly surprised. Is the hate mostly because it’s new? Or is there really something wrong that’s not obvious from looking at the tests? The test questions we looked at seemed well written, required critical thinking, etc. I have 3 kids in (or about to start) elementary school and we’ve been getting notices that Common Core is coming, but I don’t know enough about it yet to have an opinion one way or the other. Except that it’s supposed to be evil? (My husband reads non-education blogs that complain about the evil common core conspiracy…)

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    I liked plane geometry better than half a century ago. It was like solving problems, increasingly complex problems. And if you spent a moment thinking about it, you’d see how you could use it in the real world.
    I’m tutoring a Nepali refugee whose plane geometry includes some elementary trig at unexpected places, with, afaict, no context. And then some solid. Confuses me, at least, and him, and it also confuses me to figure out how this is a Good Thing and not a really Bad Thing.
    I tell him I’ll help with Earth Science, History, English. But he should take his math to the math lab where the instructors will suffer for their sins, or perhaps somebody else’s sins.

  6. The Common Core standards sounds like it’s either going to the get US into academic shape in K-12, finally – or it’s going to lead to an Orwellian nightmare future. Or maybe both.

  7. In her April 30 speech, Randi Weingarten demonstrated clear and unimpeachable logic by asking for adequate time and resources to prepare for and implement the Common Core State Standards before punishing teachers and students for non-performance on those standards. The standards themselves provide a solid foundation of what our students should learn, so it follows that, in those states where they have been adopted and fully implemented, it is reasonable to hold teachers accountable for teaching them effectively, and to hold students accountable for learning them.

    The wrinkle in this is that there are few places where the standards have been fully implemented. Full implementation does, and should, include unpacking the standards and converting them into a local curriculum, training teachers in how to teach the new curriculum effectively, and giving at least a full year to find the bugs and make adjustments as needed. It simply is not reasonable to expect workers in any industry to make a major change instantly, without time to retool and retrain.

    We sometimes have a tendency in education to do a half-baked implementation, then declare the basic recipe a failure and abandon it before we know whether it would have worked if fully cooked. We seem to be headed in that direction with the Common Core. If these standards are driven to failure, the remaining choice will be to return to what we already know won’t work, or to rush toward the next big thing that also hasn’t been adequately prepared for in the classroom. We already have far too great a fixation on high stakes accountability testing, and bringing this hammer down on our teachers and students without even a reasonable shot at success is at best unacceptable.

    We seem to admire what Finland has become, but are not willing to acknowledge the long path they followed to achieve their goals. They adopted a plan, put a tremendous effort into training their educators how to make it work, and now spend years training each new teacher to be effective in their model. If Finland really is in the promised land of education, we need be willing to follow their lead if we want to join them.