Resistance to the Common Core State Standards may be spreading
in parts of Red State America, but Californians are learning more about the new math and reading standards and generally like what they have heard, according to a new survey by the Public Policy Institute of California.
A survey of 1,702 adult Californians found that 69 percent of Californians overall said they favored Common Core after being read a brief description. Support for the new standards, however, dropped with familiarity, with 59 percent of those saying they know a lot about Common Core favoring it. Of those who had said they knew nothing about Common Core, 73 percent expressed support.
Knowledge of the new standards that California and 44 other states have adopted has grown in California, with 56 percent of respondents overall and 65 percent of public school parents now saying they know at least a little about Common Core; that compares with only 45 percent of parents a year ago.
The public’s familiarity with Common Core still far exceeded knowledge of the Local Control Funding Formula, the other sweeping change in California education rolling out this year. Just 27 percent of Californians overall said they know about the new funding formula. However, this year, as with past Public Policy Institute surveys, 70 percent of respondents said they agreed with the funding formula’s key purpose, steering extra dollars to school districts with higher concentrations of low-income students and English learners.
Mark Baldassare, the institute’s president and CEO, said that the results indicate initial widespread good will toward the two landmark education initiatives as well as “a lack of satisfaction with the status quo.” As a result, both Common Core and the new funding formula “will have some breathing room” for what’s expected to take years before they’re fully in place, he said.
That good will may be important, because those polled already are expressing skepticism about the implementation of both.
Three-quarters of all adults and 80 percent of public school parents said they were very or somewhat concerned that teachers won’t be adequately prepared to teach Common Core, while only 8 percent indicated they weren’t concerned at all. Californians indicated they’re willing to dig a little deeper to help teachers get ready. Told that the state provided $1.25 billion this year to school districts for implementing Common Core, 65 percent of all respondents and 71 percent of public school parents said they’d support adding $1.5 billion next year for Common Core preparation. There is a party split, with 76 percent of Democrats, 43 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Independents in favor.
Looking down the road, though, 74 percent of public school parents said they were very or somewhat confident that Common Core would help students develop critical thinking and problem solving skills and 71 percent said they believed Common Core would “make students more college or career ready upon graduation.”
The new education funding law requires that school districts involve parents in setting education goals and spending priorities through a Local Control and Accountability Plan. With near unanimity, all groups in the survey agreed that this is important. Most public school parents, in turn, said they were very (53 percent) or somewhat (38 percent) interested in becoming involved in developing the local accountability plan. (Lower-income parents and those without college degrees expressed the most interest.) But only about half of the public school parents (52%) in the survey said that their child’s school or district has provided information about how to become involved, while 45 percent said they have received no information. More Latino public school parents (61%) than white parents (42%) said they have received information about how to become involved with the plan.
With regard to the Local Control Funding Formula, two in three Californians said they were optimistic that the additional resources will lead to improved academic achievement for English learners and low-income students (16 percent predicted they would improve a lot, 50 percent somewhat), while 25 percent said academic achievement will not get better. Public school parents were slightly more confident: 71 percent said achievement would improve for those targeted students.
Those polled were less sanguine that flexible spending would lead to wiser spending, however. Only 8 percent of public school parents and 7 percent of all adults said they were very confident that the Local Control Funding Formula, which gives districts more authority over spending decisions, will lead to a wise use of dollars. Forty-nine percent of public school parents and 46 percent of all of those asked said they were somewhat confident this would happen.