Poll: California voters still unsure about Common Core

Credit: Lillian Mongeau/EdSource TodayCredit: Lillian Mongeau/EdSource TodayAs the California Department of Education prepares to release the first set of student test scores based on the Common Core State Standards, a new poll shows voters have mixed feelings about the new standards, including many who don’t understand what they are, or how they’re being implemented.
The Policy Analysis for California Education and USC Rossier School of Education Poll found that about 26 percent of California voters approve of the Common Core, 31 percent said they disapprove, 17 percent have no opinion, and 26 percent have not heard about the Common Core.
“This is not surprising,” said Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor of education at the USC Rossier School and an expert on the Common Core standards. “This mirrors the national trend of a lack of information, or misinformation when information is available.”
These findings are the second part of a poll of 2,411 registered California voters, including 688 parents of K-12 students, conducted annually to measure voters’ opinions on a variety of statewide education issues.
Two weeks ago, officials released the first part of the poll, which asked voters about school financing and the overall state of education.
“Even after four years of implementation and a great deal of political controversy, most Californians simply don’t know or don’t care much about Common Core,” said Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor of education at the USC Rossier School of Education.
The PACE/USC Rossier poll does show there is more support for the Common Core in California compared to the rest of the country. The 47th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll, released Aug. 23, found that 54 percent of respondents nationally oppose teachers using the Common Core to guide what they teach.
Still, the PACE/USC Rossier Poll found that a majority of California voters didn’t know basic facts about the Common Core when asked true or false questions about the initiative. Here are some of those findings:
The Common Core State Standards were developed by the Obama administration. (This is false. The standards were developed by a coalition of states and education leaders.)
          True: 19 percent
          False: 25 percent
          Unsure: 56 percent
The federal government required California to adopt the Common Core. (This is false. States individually could decide whether to adopt the initiative. Although the federal government did encourage states to adopt the standards by providing them with additional federal funding.)
           True: 26 percent
          False: 20 percent
          Unsure: 54 percent
Common Core standards only apply to English and mathematics. (This is true, although standards in other subjects are currently being developed.)
          True: 21 percent
          False: 30 percent
          Unsure: 49 percent
“Even after four years of implementation and a great deal of political controversy, most Californians simply don’t know or don’t care much about Common Core,” Polikoff said.
The poll found that among parents with children in K-12 schools, 31 percent approved of the Common Core standards, 38 percent disapproved, 16 percent have no opinion, and 15 percent have not heard of the Common Core.
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Schools face a challenge in explaining Common Core test resultsWhen it came to state tests, the poll found that 30 percent of all voters believe students spend “too much” time testing, 26 percent believe students spend “just the right” amount, while 28 percent believe students spend “too little” time testing.
The poll also asked voters whether they would be more or less likely to vote for a presidential candidate who strongly supported the Common Core. About 19 percent said they would be likely to back a candidate who supported the Common Core, while 24 percent said they would be likely to oppose such a candidate.
Polikoff said opinions on the Common Core could change following the initial release this week of the Common Core-aligned state test scores.
“The Common Core is in a fragile place right now,” he said. “It will be interesting to see where we are next year.”
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