Harvard Study: Delaware teachers, principals embracing Common Core

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Delaware teachers and principals have largely embraced the Common Core, though not as heartily as peers in other states.

That’s according to a survey conducted by Harvard University’s Center for Education Policy Research last Spring and published in a research brief Monday.

Overall, the survey–which canvassed teachers and principals in Delaware, Massachusetts, Maryland, Nevada, and New Mexico–found that 73 percent of teachers believe fellow educators in their building have embraced the Common Core “fully” or “quite a bit” and that 69 percent of principals believe the new standards will lead to “improved student learning.”

Common Core has also caused teachers to change up most of their classroom materials, according to the surveys. Among math teachers, 82 percent have switched out more than half of their instructional materials. Meanwhile, 72 percent of English teachers have done the same.

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Dissection of the data by state indicates Delaware educators and principals are less enthusiastic about the Common Core than those in the other four states. But the survey also suggests Delawareans are more likely to think Common Core has been effectively implemented in their school.

Just 67 percent of Delaware teachers say educators in their building have embraced Common Core “fully” or “quite a bit”–compared to 73 percent overall. A similar gap holds when Delaware teachers evaluate whether their principals and district administrators have embraced the Common Core.

The equation flips when Delaware teachers are asked about implementation.

Among Delaware teachers, 82.3 percent either “agree” or “strongly agree” that their colleagues are “effectively implementing” the Common Core–compared to 80.7 percent overall. Teachers in Delaware are also relatively bullish on their principals and district administrators when it comes to implementing the Core.

The Harvard study paints a sunnier picture of teacher attitudes toward Common Core than other polls.

Education Next, a publication associated with the education reform movement found, in a 2015 poll, that just 40 percent of teachers supported the Common Core. Another 10 percent were neutral and 50 percent opposed the standards. Just two years earlier, the same poll showed 76 percent of teachers supported Common Core.

The authors of the Harvard study say ideological wrangling over Common Core obscures the fact that “teachers and principals have embraced the CCSS and believe their students will benefit from them in the long run.”

Locally, backers of the Common Core are holding up the research as evidence of progress.

“This study gives a voice to what I hear from so many educators in schools across our state: Common Core is better preparing our students,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell in a statement.

In addition to surveying teacher and principal attitudes, the study also analyzed student test scores on Common-Core-aligned exams to see if certain implementation strategies could be correlated to better scores. Their analysis found students scored better on math exams when their teachers had more professional development days and more feedback “explicitly” tied to Common Core principles. They also found students scored better in math when states included “Common-Core-aligned student outcomes” on teacher evaluations.

They found no such correlations when scrutinizing English assessments.

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