I'm Going to Say Half-full This Time

Some teachers in states that have adopted the Common Core are expressing apprehension about their readiness to teach to the new standards, dismay at the low quality of the professional development they have received, and concern that textbooks and materials are not aligned to the standards.

That's what a recent online poll of 457 teachers conducted by the Education Week Research Center showed. Although not necessarily a representative sample of teachers around the country, this is the second time it has done such a poll and there are results worth noting -- especially because they don't contradict other polls.

Overall, the poll, released last week, could be seen as bad news since teachers are less happy than they were last year with the training they are receiving and remain very unhappy that textbooks and materials are not aligned with Common Core State Standards. Ed Week's Catherine Gewertz's blog post provides fodder for that view.

But I'm going to be just a tad pollyannaish today and say I see reason for hope in the sophistication teachers are showing.

For one thing, they are absolutely right that most textbooks and existing materials are not adequate to help them meet the Common Core State Standards.

William Schmidt, a professor at Michigan State University who has made a scholarly study of math education and math textbooks, has called textbook publishers who claim their books are aligned with Common Core State Standards "snake oil salesman" and urges that buyers beware. Likewise, teachers' grasp of the new standards is clearly demonstrated by their criticism of the misalignment between the standards and texts.

Also, they are right to be a bit apprehensive about not being fully prepared to teach to the new standards. Too few of them have been given the time to unpack the standards, collaborate with colleagues to figure out how they are going to teach to them, and work through all the issues of alignment and coherence that the new standards require.

Principals and superintendents should take note of this unease and make sure that they are not wasting their teachers' time with substandard training or their money on poorly aligned textbooks.

What school and district administrators really need to do is carve out time for their teachers to do the serious work of preparing to teach. That is true no matter what their states' standards are, but in states that have adopted the new Common Core State Standards, it is critical. The Ed Week Research Center poll is yet another indication of that.