Poll results reveal Americans are skeptical about common core

The more Americans know about the Common Core Standards Initiative, the less likely they are to think it will achieve its goal of improving nationwide education outcomes in reading, writing, and math for K-12 students, according to a UConn Poll released Monday.

The survey found that just 39 percent of Americans have heard of the much-debated initiative, which includes 44 of 50 states, compared to 95 percent who've heard of No Child Left Behind, an earlier federal effort to improve outcomes.

Those who do know about Common Core, though, are generally skeptical of the initiative's ability to boost the quality of American education. Just 33 percent believe adopting Common Core standards will increase the quality of education in their communities, compared to 27 percent who say it will have no effect, and 30 percent who say it will actually be detrimental.

Similarly, only 29 percent of respondents who know about Common Core think it will increase the number of students who attend college, and 33 percent say the initiative will mean that more of those Americans who graduate college will be ready for a career.

Overall, 38 percent believe Common Core is a good policy, compared to 44 percent who believe the opposite.

The skepticism about Common Core is generally consistent across demographic groups, except when it comes to political affiliation and ideology, notes UConn Poll director Jennifer Necci Dineen.

"In general, Democrats and liberals are more likely than anyone else to regard Common Core positively, while Republicans and conservatives are far more wary," she said. "That suggests people are seeing this issue at least partly in partisan political terms, rather than evaluating the initiative on its own merits."

The debate over Common Core has fueled some misconceptions about what the initiative actually means, according to Casey Cobb, head of the educational leadership department at UConn's Neag School of Education.

"Ironically, the perception of Common Core sometimes is that it's a national curriculum that's being forced onto states, and that's more myth than reality," he says. "Unlike some earlier reforms, like No Child Left Behind, there's actually more flexibility for states when it comes to working with this set of standards."

Fifty-four percent of Democrats, for example, say Common Core is good policy, compared to 30 percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Americans who've heard of the initiative. The distinction is even more stark along ideological lines: 53 percent of liberals favor the policy, compared to 24 percent of conservatives.

Dineen points out that Americans aren't opposed to a set of national standards in education that should hold true from state to state, which is one of the ostensible goals of Common Core: 73 percent say national standards are a good idea, 64 percent say the expectations of students should be the same in all states, and 68 percent say it's very important to have a consistent quality of education regardless of where students live.

"Americans like the idea of to ensure a good education whether you're in Massachusetts or Mississippi," Dineen says. "They just don't think Common Core is the best way to achieve that."

Some of this wariness might be a reflection of the fact that Americans are, in general, positive about their local schools. The UConn Poll found that 59 percent of Americans believe the quality of local education is either good or excellent, compared to 11 percent who think it's poor.

Americans also believe schools are generally doing a good job despite financial hardship: from a list of 20 problems confronting local schools, budget woes were by far the most significant, according to the poll. Thirty-two percent of Americans rate that as the most significant problem, dwarfing other challenges like poverty (2 percent), lack of parental involvement (4 percent), safety (5 percent), standardized testing (2 percent), bad teachers (4 percent), and unions (1 percent).

These findings are based on The UConn Poll. The national sample of 1,007 randomly selected adults were interviewed by landline and cellular telephone between April 22 and April 30, 2014. The margin of sampling error for the survey is +/- 3 percentage points for the entire sample, and larger for subgroups.

The data have been weighted by the number of adults in a household and the number of telephone numbers, land and cellular, at which adults in the household can be reached in order to equalize the chances of an individual adult being selected. The data have also been weighted by the sex, race, and level of education of the respondent, based on the American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census.

Explore further

UConn poll: American thankfulness lower than normal

Citation: Poll results reveal Americans are skeptical about common core (2014, May 6) retrieved 18 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2014-05-poll-results-reveal-americans-skeptical.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

Feedback to editors

User comments

May 06, 2014
Whenever I hear this, I ask them if they've ever actually looked at the Common Core standards, and almost inevitably, they have NOT. It's easy to access the Common Core Standards online. There is nothing wrong with the content- it all makes perfect sense to expect our students to have this knowledge. Unless you are comfortable with our ranking among other nations: 39th!!! These other countries are laughing at us, unfortunately. (I refer only to ELA Standards- I haven't really studied the math or science part- I am only qualified to comment on English Language Arts.

May 06, 2014
One only has to read: "The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America" by Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt to understand that America's educational system has been subverted and is designed to destroy critical thinking; to turn our children into compliant and complacent tools for industry.

May 07, 2014
She did a lot of research and gathered many facts but turned it all into her own brand of right-wing extremism, where it's all a left-wing socialist plot that is to blame. Even President Reagan didn't trust her to be in a position of authority. She sees the government as an insidious presence that is seeking to overturn the constitution and allow for a Socialist Democracy. She uses all the proper rhetoric to inflame her audience, the far-right wing of America. If, for instance, you are a fan of some of the loonier characters out there like Alex Jones, then you will love to hear what she has to say. Much of her style is to use inflammatory words that pander to the fears of conservatives. The fifteen years that have passed since this book came out have not been kind to her message: she was unable to find widespread acceptance, only the far right was willing to overlook her assertion of a conspiracy from the left wing. More conservative propaganda, & she's slipped into obscurity.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more