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Survey Finds State Officials Confident in Common Core

A new survey of high-ranking state education officials finds that most see little chance the Common Core State Standards will be "reversed, limited or changed in some way" in their states during the 2013-14 school year, and downplays the threat posed by state-level opposition to the common standards.

The survey, just published by the Center on Education Policy, based at George Washington University, received responses from deputy superintendents of education or their designees in 40 of the 46 common-core states and the District of Columbia from February through May of this year. All but one of the respondents come from states that have adopted both the English/language arts and math standards; one has adopted only the ELA standards. (This last state isn't mentioned by name, but process of elimination tells you that it's Minnesota, since it was the only state to adopt the ELA standards but not the math standards.)

Of those responding, 37 deemed it "not likely" that the common core will be dropped or dramatically altered by their states in the coming school year; two said they "don't know" if they will; and only one state considered it "somewhat likely." (Again, this particular state is not identified, but this time there's no immediately apparent way to identify it).

Not one of those responding said that "overcoming resistance from within the K-12 system" to the common core constituted a major challenge for the standards.

"We found that, while there might be resistance to the common core, it isn't coming from state education agencies," Maria Ferguson, CEP's executive director, said in a statement accompanying the report. "State leaders are more focused on finding resources and guidance to carry out the demanding steps required for full implementation."

As for state agencies overcoming resistance from within their K-12 systems, here's how it's viewed by the K-12 leaders surveyed:

Online Graphing

Indeed, opposition to the common core and concerns about how the common-core assessments will be used has come from a variety of sources, including tea party groups and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. But state education agencies don't really seem to fit into that chorus.

CEP also broke down to what degree the state education leaders felt threats to the common core from outside the K-12 system, not counting higher education. Here's how the state officials viewed that situation (the center included only 39 responses for this particular question):

Online Graphing

Two of those responding also said that overcoming common-core resistance from institutions of higher education would be a "major challenge." Three said it was "too soon to tell" if colleges and universities would cause a problem for common-core implementation. The remainder said that particular obstacle was minor or non-existent. The source of tension might be changes the common core could trigger in teacher preparation programs, or just skepticism from the higher education community about the standards in general.

The report also connects the common core to federal policy activity, such as the renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Thirty of the state education officials, for example, said they supported revisions to Title I funding in the ESEA to help teachers in Title I schools teach the standards. Interestingly, while 33 said federal funds should provide general assistance to states to implement the common core, two respondents said they do not want federal assistance for their transition to the standards.

And of the 29 responding from states with waivers from portions of the No Child Left Behind Act, 22 said the waivers were, in fact, helping them implement the common core.

The political environment around common core is still in flux, and if some political activists have their way, some of those tall bars in the graphs cited above will start to tumble. How much the political environment for common core has changed since the time of the survey is a matter for debate. But the numbers do appear to indicate that common core support among folks at the levers of power in states remains pretty solid. The question is, will state legislators or others take key decisions out of their hands?

To read the entire report, click the link: "Year 3 of Implementing the Common Core State Standards: State Education Agencies Views on the Federal Role." (Charts via chartgo.com)

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