Teacher survey: lesson in Common Core?

A solid majority of teachers support the new Idaho Core Standards, according to a survey commissioned by a conservative group opposing the standards.

In a survey of 402 teachers in December, conducted by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, 59 percent of teachers had a favorable or very favorable impression of the new math and English language arts standards. Only 31 percent of teachers opposed the standards.

Wayne Hoffman
Wayne Hoffman, Idaho Freedom Foundation

The Freedom Foundation’s executive director, Wayne Hoffman, has said the state should step away from Common Core — dismissing it, in one recent column, as “the latest national education fad.” On Tuesday, he labeled Common Core as education’s “latest, bright shiny object,” and said the survey results would not cause his group to rethink its position on Common Core.

“We’re just going to provide it to legislators, so make sure they’re aware of it,” Hoffman said of the survey, which was released Monday. “We just wanted to inject another vantage point into the debate, beyond what the (Idaho Education Association) says is the opinion of educators.”

While teachers back the standards themselves, the Common Core-based assessment didn’t fare nearly as well.

Only 27 percent of teachers said the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests will be a “reasonable and useful tool” in measuring student growth; 51 percent of teachers disagreed.
Last week, state superintendent Tom Luna agreed to allow school districts to opt out of this spring’s SBAC field test in ninth and 10th grades. State Sen. Steven Thayn, R-Emmett, says the state should scrap the field test.
Given the opposition from teachers, Hoffman said, the SBAC exam “deserves a second look.”

Teachers seemed to sympathize with one of Hoffman’s policy pet peeves: criticism of the State Board of Education’s much-publicized goal of convincing 60 percent of Idahoans to obtain a postsecondary degree or certificate. In another recent column, Hoffman suggested the goal is symptomatic of “academic snobbery” in American schools and the workplace.

In the teacher survey, 20 percent of teachers said Idaho public schools should focus on helping the state meet the postsecondary degree goal. 66 percent of teachers favored a more general focus, albeit one that would better prepare students for college — basic skills achievement in the classroom.

In other snapshots from the survey (and here’s a link to access the full results):

  • Fifty-two percent of teachers said the Legislature is doing a poor job; 44 percent said lawmakers are doing an excellent or OK job.
  • Seventy-nine percent of teachers favored increasing starting teacher pay to $40,000 — part of a salary career ladder proposal from Gov. Butch Otter’s education reform task force.
  • Eighty-one percent criticized policy makers — including superintendents, school boards and legislators — for failing to consider input from teachers before setting education policy.
  • As for the Freedom Foundation itself, 12 percent of teachers gave the group a favorable rating, 17 percent gave it unfavorable reviews, and the remaining 71 percent were unaware of the organization.

The survey, conducted by Spartac Public Affairs Management of Boise, has a margin of error of 4.9 percent.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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