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Most Americans unaware of the Common Core, poll says

Most Americans give the public schools in their community an A or B—the highest rating in poll’s history

Almost two out of three Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards, and those who have understand little about them, a new poll finds.

Fewer than half of parents with children in public schools are aware of the standards, the 45th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools also found. The poll is the longest-running survey of American attitudes toward education. The 1,000 respondents offered opinions on topics including the Common Core, standardized testing, school safety, and charter schools.

“A lot of state and local leaders were so focused on the implementation of the Common Core and professional development for teachers that they neglected communication to the public,” says Bill Bushaw, executive director of PDK International and co-director of the poll.

The best people to communicate Common Core information to the public are teachers and principals, Bushaw says. More than 70 percent of Americans reported having trust and confidence in public school teachers, while 65 percent trust principals, the poll found.

And most Americans gave the public schools in their community an A or B—the highest rating in the poll’s history. But fewer than one in five gave public schools nationwide in general a B or above.

“Administrators should realize that Americans truly like the schools in their community and support teachers and principals, and that they can build on that support,” Bushaw says.

District administrators should encourage school-level leaders and teachers to use letters, meetings, and other means to inform parents about how the Common Core will improve public education.

Support for evaluating teachers based on student test scores dropped to 41 percent in 2013 from 52 percent last year. Bushaw says he believes people expected No Child Left Behind to drive a bigger jump in test scores. Fewer than 25 percent of poll respondents said increased testing has improved public school performance.

Bushaw encourages state and district level leaders to embrace Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s proposal to delay the use of student assessments to evaluate teachers until the 2016-2017 school year, considering the difficult move to the Common Core and new assessment system.

“We can’t just move forward with a high-stakes teacher evaluation system in the middle of an enormous transition, when we know student scores will decline at first,” he says.