The jury's still out on what New York voters really think of the Common Core standards, but regardless of their opinion, most say they want to delay the implementation of the standards for two years, according to a recent poll from Siena College.
According to the poll, released Tuesday, New York adults' views on the academic benchmarks haven't changed much since November, when the college last surveyed registered voters on Common Core. In February, 36 percent said the standards are too demanding, 24 percent said they're not demanding enough, and 23 percent said they're about right. In November, those numbers were 34 percent, 27 percent and 23 percent, respectively.
“Even as the debate over the Common Core rages on, New Yorkers’ attitudes about the Common Core have changed very little over the last three months," said Siena College pollster Steven Greenberg, in a statement.
New Yorkers were also split when it came to confidence in the standards' potential to prepare students for college and the workforce. About half (46 percent) said they were either somewhat or very confident that the standards would help prepare students for these paths by graduation, while the other half (47 percent) said they were not very or not at all confident that this would happen. Another 8 percent said they didn't know or had no opinion.
Despite those split views, half of the voters surveyed said they would be in support of delaying the implementation of the standards for two years. In January, the New York State United Teachers, a union that represents more than 600,000 education professionals throughout the state, dropped its support of Common Core as it is being implemented, and called for a two-year moratorium on the high stakes associated with the Common Core-aligned tests.
The New York Board of Regents, which sets education policy for the state, subsequently voted to give teachers a two-year reprieve and also delay making student performance on the Common Core tests a graduation requirement for students.
Common Core has been adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia, and is being implemented at the same time states are being asked to change the way they evaluate teachers. Notably, in order to qualify for waivers from No Child Left Behind, state teacher evaluation systems must include a component of student growth, measured by how well students perform on state tests. Those student performance measures must count for a significant portion of a teacher's evaluation, and in some states can account for up to half of a teacher's overall score.
The problem comes with the rollout of Common Core. In states that have already used and released scores for students who took the Common Core-aligned tests, the results showed a significant drop in scores. Teachers worry those scores will unfairly put them at risk of losing their jobs or face other negative consequences, while they say both teachers and students haven't had enough time to adjust to the new standards and tests.
New York educators have also been critical of the amount of student testing that takes place. In October, for example, a group of New York principals wrote an open letter to parents decrying the amount of state testing, which they said had increased by 128 percent since 2010 for students in third through eighth grades.
But the Siena College poll found mixed results when it came to testing. While the number of voters who say there's too much state testing in public schools is down to 45 percent, from 52 percent in November, many voters now say the Common Core standards have increased testing. Among those surveyed, 41 percent said the new standards have increased testing, compared with 30 percent who say they haven't changed the number of state tests.