Putting Education Reform To The Test

National Survey Finds Teachers Bullish About Common Standards

A Gates Foundation-sponsored survey found a majority of teachers think Common Core State Standards will benefit students.

Rusty Clark / Flickr

A Gates Foundation-sponsored survey found a majority of teachers think Common Core State Standards will benefit students.

Almost three-quarters of teachers in the Common Core State Standards subjects of English and math think the standards will have a positive effect on students, according to a new survey sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Overall, more than half of teachers think the standards, adopted by Florida and 44 other states, will have a positive effect on students. About one-third said the standards will not change much, while 8 percent said the standards will have a negative effect.

Common Core is a multi-state effort that outlines what students should know at the end of each grade. The standards also emphasize analytical thinking, asking students what they know and to prove how they know it.

The Gates Foundation has spent tens of millions to support the creation and promotion of Common Core standards. The online survey polled 20,000 teachers in grades pre-K through 12.

Here are some of the top conclusions, according to Education Week:

• 97 percent of all teachers and 100 percent of teachers in states implementing the common core are aware of the standards.

• 57 percent of teachers in common-core states said the standards will be positive for students, 35 percent said they will make “not much of a difference for most students,” and 8 percent said they will be negative for students.

• 77 percent of math and/or English language arts teachers in common-core states said the standards will have a “positive” or “very positive” impact on students’ critical thinking and reasoning skills. 12 percent said the impact would be “neither positive or negative,” 10 percent “don’t know enough to say,” and 1 percent said the impact would be negative.

• Half of math and English language arts teachers in common-core states said implementation “is fully complete or mostly complete in at least one of these areas.” Forty-two percent said implementation is “in its early stages.” Six percent said it has not yet begun.

• In schools where implementation has begun, just 62 percent of core-subject teachers said it is “going well.”

• While nearly three-quarters of core-subject teachers in common-core states say they’re enthusiastic about the standards’ implementation, elementary teachers are most likely to feel this way (81 percent) and high school teachers are least likely (57 percent).

• 73 percent of math, English, science, and social studies teachers agree “strongly” or “somewhat” that implementation of the standards “is or will be challenging.” Seven percent “don’t know enough to say.”

• Nearly three-quarters of teachers in common-core states say the new standards will require them to change their teaching practices. Eight percent were not sure and 18 percent said they would not require changes.

To read what Florida teachers have said about Common Core standards, click here, here and here.


  • MomsNotScared AtAll

    When the sponsor of the survey is the Gates Foundation, you won’t get a different outcome….thanks for nothing, NPR.

  • MissTee

    Seriously NPR? I’m so sad that you guys are siding with the education deformers. There are HUGE problems with the deform movement, yet NPR has never addressed them. All I hear is glory be to the common core. Glory be to value added teacher pay (which is like evaluating dentists by the number of cavities their patients get) I know Gates gives you a lot of money, but we still count on you to be PUBLIC radio! Since I can’t be Bill Gates, And my puddly annual donation is worthless in comparison, it’s really made me think twice about supporting NPR in the future

  • Clyde Gaw

    Let me get this strait….Gates Foundation funds CC$$ and the CC$$ $urvey? Anything not quite right here?

    • MissTee

      Several years back there was a study that proved that breakfast cereal made kids do better in school. It was sponsored by the breakfast cereal corporations. Duh!

  • Refused the tests

    I know you rely on underwriting, corporate funding, and the government for financial solvency, but come on! This just goes to show “trusted” media can not be trusted because they are too easily influenced by money. I expect more from you, NPR.

  • Sandra

    Two key takeaways: (1) Who sponsored the survey? (2) Who spent tens of millions int he creation and promoting of the Common Core initiative? The Common Core initiative includes the standards, the assessments, and the database. The implementation of this system is a failure. PARENTS oppose the excessive high stakes punitive testing and accountability system based on this system. It doesn’t really matter what Gates think. What matters are the parent concerns. Please NPR cover the real stories.

  • letmejustsay

    This is complete and utter BS! Most teachers do not support the Common Core standards! Just ask the teachers at https://www.facebook.com/groups/BadAssTeachers


  • SKHerrera

    This is absolutely the most ridiculous article I have read lately. Bill Gates gives millions to support CC$$…do you think there would be another outcome. WHY DON’T YOU ASK TEACHERS YOURSELF? I volunteer as a prospective interviewee. And, please stop the misinformation!

  • MarisaBAT

    This survey is GARBAGE. I don’t know ONE SINGLE fellow teacher who supports CCSS: we all know it will do far more damage than NCLB did, and that’s saying a lot, considering that our entire public education system basically disintegrated under it.

  • Sean

    Are you kidding me? Virtually all of the teachers I know consider this to be another expensive, passing fad that’s intended to suck money out of the classroom and into private testing and test prep company hands. Just like the past several fads that have claimed to be “the silver bullet,” stole taxpayer money, and then disappeared.

    Come on NPR. I’ve come to expect better reporting than this from you.

  • Anne

    No one asked this teacher. And who asked Bill Gates anyway?

  • http://www.thefrustratedteacher.com tft

    Gates pays for results. I don’t believe them. Why? Because I am a teacher and pretty much all we teachers talk about is how Bill Gates has ruined our careers and hurt the children.

    Bill even admits ‘his’ reforms will not be known to have worked for another 10 years.

    Teachers and parents, take back your schools. Help us teach your kids through projects, not worksheets. Help us help your child, because the CCSS won’t.

  • PAGster

    Here’s hoping you can soon cover those hard-hitting studies by the American Tobacco Institute proving cigarettes are good for you.

  • Marblemania

    Yeah, like a Gates sponsored survey is reliable.At least my parents taught me to pull back the curtain. Let’s ask Hillsborough county teachers how Gates money is working for them.Out here in the REAL WORLD of Florida, nothing is further from the truth.

  • cak

    Really???? Where is your rigor?

  • Can’tFoolMe

    Biased article. The survey is conducted by the SAME organization as created the curriculum. That would be the same as a teacher evaluating him/herself on their own teaching ability. Foolhardy!! NPR this is SO disappointing that you would feature this article. The American public relies on you to bring unbiased, well-thought out materials.

  • Jennifer Fatone

    So disappointed, NPR. Why don’t you talk to teachers? Instead, you rely on Common Core’s sponsor to provide an assessment of Common Core. If I wanted lazy, corporate-sponsored journalism, I’d watch FOX “News.”

  • Annoyed Susan

    Talk to teachers; don’t depend on surveys created/sponsored by the people funding the CCS. Follow the money to see who profits from the implementation of CCS. Who creates the assessments, the texts? Who actually created the standards themselves? Not teachers, that’s for sure. Maybe have Diane Rehm allocate all two hours of her show so that teachers, those actually involved in the classroom, can contribute? I am very disappointed that NPR publicized an obviously biased survey.

  • dina

    Are you serious? Maybe you should actually use an honest poll and question real teachers. Also, maybe it shouldn’t be sponsored by the Gates Foundation, which is obviously biased. I’m very disappointed with this article, NPR. It makes me wonder if you being supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I thought listeners supported your station. You should be asking yourself why the The Gates Foundation and other corporations are so vested in education. THAT’s a report America needs to read.

  • HaveToHaveHope

    I stopped reading after the first paragraph. Doesn’t surprise me one bit coming from NPR. Who sponsored this article? I wonder…

  • duh

    Critical thinking is an important skill that NPR reporters apparently lack. A Bill Gates Sponsored Survey about a Bill Gates Sponsored initiative is probably biased and with skewed results. Did Gates choose a biased sample of teachers? Did he rely on charter school or TFA teachers which would skew the results? How were the questions worded? these are questions critical thinkers ask.

  • Liz Williams Chatwell

    Dear NPR, I expect better from you. I know the Gates Foundation is one of your primary programming sponsors. It’s hard enough for me to stomach that. However, as an English teacher in IN, I can say that the MAJORITY of math & English teachers are not “bullish” about the Core; rather, we see that it is bullsh**. As a mother of two young boys, I see every day that the Core is changing them; changing how they feel about school, about learning, about their own futures and possibilities. The Common Core is breaking my mother’s heart & my teacher’s soul. We teachers do not earn enough to fund your programming, but we still are capable of turning the dial. Shame on you.

  • disappointed

    Hello, NPR. Who’s asleep at the wheel? Did you really do a story on a survey sponsored by the Gates Foundation about a ;project paid for by the Gates Foundation???? Need a follow up telling the story of how the majority of educators feel. Check out the following Facebook Groups:
    Lace to the Top
    Teachers Letters to Obama
    Badass Teachers
    Florida BATs (and many other states)
    Only a few of the many sites…..

  • Diane Aoki

    This is so very strange because this is not what I’m experiencing nor anyone I know. Unless these CC cheerleaders are afraid of me. Which I find hard to believe. Come on npr, you are capable of better journalism than that. Gates funded survey, Gates funded Common Core. See the connection? If this truly is a representative sample of teachers, they probably have not considered the assessments and their impact. Why was that question left out of the survey? Standards-based education is at best a guide, goals. But making them high- stakes, that’s a whole different ball game.

  • Fighting for all my kids

    They must have surveyed the only teachers in the country who approve. The curriculum being written to align with the CCSS is nothing short of demoralizing for teachers and students. If I were to actually follow the curriculum that is aligned, I would have a classroom full of illiterate students. There is not one lesson that actually teaches students to read. First graders are coming home crying because they feel “dumb” all day in school with this curriculum. NPR, I hope you will follow up on this.

  • Kim McCollum-Clark

    How about a little critical thinking to mix in with philanthropy-based reporting, NPR? this reads like a press release from Gates Foundation. Oh wait. . .

  • appwitch

    There is scant information on the methodology and a great deal of reason to believe that there would be a substantial nonresponse and response bias in this survey.

  • Reichsprinz

    Having the same corporation that has spent tens of millions to support the creation and promotion of Common Core standards also do the survey is somehow supposed to be unbiased? Come on, NPR, the conflict of interest is palpable. Furthermore, we are talking about a set of standards that are untested, standards that even Bill Gates admits won’t be proven for a decade or more. If the perception is that these new standards will be positive, perhaps it’s because of the (tens of) millions of dollars spent promoting Common Core. If – and this is a big if – the standards effect a positive change, it will not be because of the standards themselves but because of the efforts of the much-maligned teachers who implement them.

  • Cheryl pavkovich

    NPR, I love you, so I’m going to assume this was just a mistake that you will correct. Most teachers do NOT like the Common Core, but,of course, a survey sponsored by Bill Gates will show that they do. He has spent BILLIONS on this, even though he has NO experience as an educator. I taught for 33 years and my experience and expertise are pushed aside for the pontificating of politicians and billionaires. Please talk to real teachers for the real story.

  • kathie larsyn

    baloney on this survey! next time NPR has a fund raiser, i am going to make sure i call in and tell them why i can’t support a “public” station that has obviously sold out to the gates foundation…..^0^

  • Cheryl B

    When NPR and others continue to promulgate these erroneous results, it harms children. PLEASE STOP and begin to listen to those who know understand the parents and teachers in real communities and schools. The Gates Foundations funds the survey about the standards? Seriously, skewed.

  • Another NYC teacher

    It’s not about the standards, it’s about all of the testing that has been tied to those same standards. If it was JUST about standards, and not about the incessant testing required, any teacher can adapt without concerns for their students!

  • P Myers

    Not a reliable survey.

  • messerlyk

    Not news. Biased, unreliable, hogwash.

  • Martha

    Wow- I’m disappointed in you, NPR. Of course the Foundation that paid for and promotes the Common Core can produce survey results that show teachers think it is good. That is like accepting a survey conducted by the tobacco industry saying that smoking really isn’t bad for you….I’m a teacher and most teachers I know have major objections to the Common Core. How about a follow-up story where you conduct a survey or find an existing survey not provided by the Gates Foundation? I think that would be more in keeping with your reputation for excellent and unbiased journalism.

  • John Hallowitz

    This is a lie. It’s not a small lie, it’s a big lie. It’s a big lie that is being repeated over and over again in an attempt to fool the politicians and the general public. Obviously, this time NPR bought the lie. Any new report on a survey or poll that doesn’t analyze the survey methods is at best naive and gullible, and at worst complicit in creating confusion and ignorance on the subject.

    If all you survey is the teachers active on common core implementation sites or just those who volunteer for a Gates sponsored poll, then most or all are those who respond are likely to be actively drinking the cool-aid. With that in mind, showing such a large minority of the cool-aid drinkers having problems with the program is a disastrous result for the backers of common core. That even the a minority of the cool aid drinkers are waking up to the severe problems with CCS tells you this program is in deep trouble. .

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