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Teachers back new Common Core standards in survey

| Thursday, Oct. 3, 2013, 9:12 p.m.

A large majority of K-12 teachers say that new learning standards being implemented in most states will improve students' thinking skills, a new survey suggests.

A poll of more than 20,000 teachers by the children's publisher Scholastic finds that about three-fourths of teachers think the standards known as Common Core will improve students' abilities to reason and think critically. Only 8 percent say Common Core will have a negative impact on the classroom as schools retool to comply with the new standards.

Common Core is designed to replace the nation's patchwork of state standards in math and reading, with goals that emphasize critical thinking and a more thorough understanding of a few key topics.

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2009 initiated the effort. All states except for Alaska, Nebraska, Texas and Virginia quickly signed on, helped in part by President Obama, who tied “college and career-ready standards” to billions of dollars in federal grants. Conservatives such as Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said this made Common Core all but obligatory. Haley last year said the state should not “relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states.” On the left, education historian Diane Ravitch said the standards weren't adequately field-tested.

Since then, several states, including Michigan, Indiana and Pennsylvania, have put the effort on hold. Last month, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said he would withdraw from a national consortium that is creating Common Core tests.

Margery Mayer, Scholastic's president of education, said, “I think that teachers see this as a moment of renewal. They like what the Common Core is asking them to do in the classroom.”

The new survey is underwritten by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which also has supported efforts to implement Common Core.

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