Every superintendent and principal in California, along with 7,000 teachers statewide, received an extensive questionnaire this week asking for their perspectives on how well the rollout of the Common Core State Standards has been handled.

The nonprofit research agency WestEd is conducting the survey with the blessing of  State Board of Education President Michael Kirst and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson. Results will be tabulated in summary form and won’t be identifiable by school, district or county office of education.

“Our goal is to have a better view about implementation from the perspective of teachers, principals and superintendents,” Kirst said.‎ “These results will help inform decision-making, especially about professional development and additional support needed.”

The survey, the most comprehensive to date, will parallel similar questionnaires in other states, including Florida, Massachusetts and New York, providing cross-state comparisons.

The 17-page questionnaire to teachers, estimated to take 15 minutes to fill out, asks teachers to identify and rate the forms in which they’ve received support in the Common Core – including online materials, training, textbooks, and Smarter Balanced library resources – and to rate the quality and extent of that support from their school, district and county.

Among the other questions, the survey asks teachers to identify:

  • Whether specific Common Core topics in math and English language arts, such as teaching complex texts using close-reading analysis and building academic vocabulary, are being offered in teaching training;
  • What kinds of data, including interim assessments, their districts have used to measure standards implementation;
  • How well prepared their districts and schools are to teach the standards;
  • Whether there have been shifts in practice resulting from their training;
  • Whether technology-related topics are used in professional development;
  • Which barriers (funding, time, etc.) are hindering professional development;
  • To what degree training has helped with the new standards;
  • Whether, and from whom and in what form, they received training.

Responses will remain confidential. Participants are encouraged to complete the survey by early to mid-November. If they do, teachers and principals will receive a $10 gift card, courtesy of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which is underwriting the survey.* Joan Talbert, a senior research scholar emerita at Stanford University, helped develop the questions.

*EdSource Today’s coverage of the Common Core is supported by the Gates Foundation and other foundations. EdSource maintains sole editorial control over the content of its coverage. 


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  1. Stephanie Penniman 8 months ago8 months ago

    As an instructor with the UCLA CalTeach program and a mathematics mentor for over 25 years, I have presented at numerous regional conferences, coached teachers in their classrooms, collaborated with instructors through the California Mathematics Project for teachers, and taught in my own classroom for over 35 years. All of that to say that the ONLY professional development I have ever seen really work was the year I mentored teachers at Woodlawn Elementary School in … Read More

    As an instructor with the UCLA CalTeach program and a mathematics mentor for over 25 years, I have presented at numerous regional conferences, coached teachers in their classrooms, collaborated with instructors through the California Mathematics Project for teachers, and taught in my own classroom for over 35 years. All of that to say that the ONLY professional development I have ever seen really work was the year I mentored teachers at Woodlawn Elementary School in Bell Gardens, CA. (As I recall, during 1998-99.)

    The Woodlawn professional development started in August by a full day of standards-based training with hands-on math activities. After grade level collaboration, teachers took one agreed upon lesson back to the classroom, taught the lesson, collected student work, and reflected on the lesson at a grade-level meeting. One day a month for 9 more sessions, I presented several hands-on, grade level specific math lessons. The principal released teachers from their classrooms for one hour a day by grade level, beginning at 8:00 a.m. with kindergarten. Next, I met with first and second grade instructors, third and fourth grade teachers, and finally with the fifth grade staff. With each session, teachers were accountable for what they were learning. They had to take it back to the classroom and teach one agreed upon lesson. Grade level meetings spent time reflecting on what was successful and how they would modify the lesson next time to meet the needs of their predominantly bilingual student population.

    Although I learned more than anyone else did, I watched teacher excitement and confidence grow each month. Grade level collaboration improved collegiality and developed friendships that led to several instructors going through the process of National Board certification the following year. In my opinion, the only professional development that works is that which is directly relevant to the classroom and holds teachers accountable to try the new material, collect student work, and reflect on what they have learned.

  2. Dallas 9 months ago9 months ago

    I just completed a research project for Professional Development and the Common Core. If teachers had more time incorporated in the school day, they would be able to collaborate more and discuss key factors for the success of the Common Core. I made an Infographic as a part of my research, check it out! It discusses time teachers actually have implemented in the school day to work on Professional Development, and challenges that teachers and … Read More

    I just completed a research project for Professional Development and the Common Core. If teachers had more time incorporated in the school day, they would be able to collaborate more and discuss key factors for the success of the Common Core. I made an Infographic as a part of my research, check it out! It discusses time teachers actually have implemented in the school day to work on Professional Development, and challenges that teachers and schools altogether face when trying to succeed with implementing the Common Core. https://magic.piktochart.com/output/8788030-infographic

  3. Brad Strong 9 months ago9 months ago

    Anyone know if the districts will have access to their information before the state level aggregation?

  4. Doug McRae 9 months ago9 months ago

    The news of this survey effort is most welcome, it should shed some light on an area (implementation of CC in CA) which has been murky at best in recent years, better late than never. Any idea when WestEd hopes to release results? Provided there is a decent response to the survey, this is the kind of information needed to make heads or tails from the Smarter Balanced test results from spring 2015. One of the … Read More

    The news of this survey effort is most welcome, it should shed some light on an area (implementation of CC in CA) which has been murky at best in recent years, better late than never. Any idea when WestEd hopes to release results?

    Provided there is a decent response to the survey, this is the kind of information needed to make heads or tails from the Smarter Balanced test results from spring 2015. One of the prerequisites for obtaining valid reliable fair scores from any statewide assessment program is that students have had the Opportunity-to-Learn the material on the test. After all, as Dave Gordon (SacCo Supt) so eloquently said almost two years ago (SacBee, Feb 2014) “It just isn’t fair to test students on material they have not been taught.”

    John, the link in the post is for a District Staff survey. Is there a separate form of the survey for building level staff, i.e., principals and teachers who received surveys? If so, can you provide a link?

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