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PRIMARY SOURCES: Three-Quarters of Teachers Believe Common Core State Standards Will Have a Positive Impact on Students’ Critical-Thinking and Reasoning Skills, New Survey Finds

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“I believe the standards are holding students and teachers to higher expectations and providing consistency in a positive way. While implementation can be daunting at the beginning, I’m confident that in the long run it will all be worth it,” said Naima Lilly, a mathematics educator in New York City.

Nearly every teacher in the United States (97 percent) has heard of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and three-quarters (77 percent) of math and English language arts (ELA) teachers say the standards will have a positive impact on students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills, according to preliminary findings from Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, released by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on October 4. Of the 20,000 public school teachers surveyed, only 1 percent believe the CCSS will have a negative impact on students’ critical-thinking and reasoning skills; 22 percent expect no impact or do not know enough to say.

“I see teachers’ real experiences in the Primary Sources findings about the Common Core State Standards,” noted Naima Lilly, a mathematics educator in New York City. “I believe the standards are holding students and teachers to higher expectations and providing consistency in a positive way. While implementation can be daunting at the beginning, I’m confident that in the long run it will all be worth it.”

When asked about implementation, 52 percent of math and ELA teachers say implementation in their school is complete or mostly complete; 42 percent say implementation is in its early stages, while only 6 percent say that it has not started. Among elementary school teachers, where implementation is happening first, 67 percent say implementation is going well, compared to 60 percent and 52 percent, respectively, of middle and high school teachers.

While teachers are enthusiastic about CCSS implementation in their classrooms, they acknowledge that implementing the standards is or will be challenging and will require them to make changes in their teaching practice. The top two needs cited by teachers were more planning time to find materials and plan lessons plus quality professional development.

“No one knows teaching like teachers. As a former classroom teacher, I know how important it is to listen when teachers tell us what they need,” said Vicki L. Phillips, director of education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The Primary Sources data show us that teachers are enthusiastic about tackling the real challenges of implementing the Common Core State Standards. They need support, but also believe the standards will improve student achievement by preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers.”

The full Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change report, to be released in the coming months, will provide additional findings on the CCSS, insight into teachers’ experiences with and opinions on teacher evaluation systems, and more. More information on the report, including the complete preliminary findings, is available at http://www.scholastic.com/primarysources.

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