Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, explains here why she supports the Common Core Standards and why she believes there should be a moratorium on the high stakes attached to the testing until teachers have had enough time to master them and students have had the opportunity to learn them.

Randi writes:

It’s no secret that the AFT is a big supporter of the Common Core State Standards. We believe these standards have the ability to transform the DNA of teaching and learning to ensure that ALL children, regardless of where they live, have the critical thinking, problems solving and teamwork skills and experience they need to succeed in their careers, at college and in life.

AFT members were deeply involved in the development of these standards and through Share My Lesson and the AFT Innovation Fund the AFT is working to ensure that teachers, parents and even districts have the tools and resources they need to implement these standards.

I am constantly on the road visiting schools and meeting with AFT members. I continually meet teachers who support these standards and who believe these standards hold great potential for their students and our public schools. But nearly every teacher I meet says that she is not getting the proper tools and resources to make the instructional shifts necessary—and as we have seen there’s been a rush to implement high-stakes tests before getting the implementation right.

The AFT wanted to match what we were hearing on the ground with real scientific data. The AFT takes our obligation to serve our members very seriously. That’s why we worked with Hart Research, the polling firm we’ve used for more than two decades, on a poll of AFT teachers to gauge their support of the Common Core and their concerns about the implementation.

Honestly, I was surprised to see some bloggers and others question the results of a scientific study using standard polling research measures used by nearly every reputable polling firm the U.S. I was also troubled to see anti-union organizations being cited and used as a way to discredit the AFT and the poll.

The AFT publicly released this poll, a detailed polling memo and a powerpoint presentation on the findings. We also held a media availability during the Education Writers Association conference last week with our pollster to discuss the poll and its findings. The AFT and our pollster would have been happy to answer any questions about our poll had we been asked.

I asked Guy Molyneux of Hart Research Associates to address Mercedes Schneider’s post and you can read his memo outlining the strong methodology of the poll and its representative sample of AFT members. (Guy Molyneaux’s memo will be posted in a few minutes).

There may be disagreements on the importance of the Common Core but as a community of educators we should respect the scientific process and the dignity of one another.

Much of the discussion around the AFT poll has focused on the 75 percent of AFT teachers who support the standards. But the poll also brought to light many concerns teachers have about the implementation of the Common Core.

• 74 percent of teachers are worried that the new assessments will begin—and students, teachers and schools will be held accountable for the results—before everyone involved understands the new standards and before instruction has been fully implemented with the standards.

• Just 27 percent said their school district has provided them with all or most of the resources and tools they need to successfully teach the standards.

• 53 percent said they have received either no training or inadequate training to help prepare them to teach to the standards.

• 76 percent said their school district has not provided enough planning time for understanding the standards and putting them into practice.

• 58 percent said their district has not done enough to have a fully developed curricula aligned to standard available to teachers.

• 54 percent said their district has not done enough to have assessments aligned to the standards.
• Just 33 percent, are very or fairly satisfied with the amount of teacher input in developing their district’s plans for the Common Core standards.

• And half, or 51 percent, said there have not been enough opportunities for teachers to practice with students to ensure they are learning key concepts and principles.

Again, we may have disagreements on the importance of the Common Core. But these standards were adopted by 45 states and D.C., teachers are being expected to teach to these standards and teachers and children are being assessed based on these standards. It is clear that teachers are not getting the tools and resources they need and that they do not believe their voice is being heard. These are serious concerns and instead of fighting over polling data, I hope that we can work together to ensure that every teacher is prepared to teach to these standards. That’s what our teachers and students need and deserve.

Randi Weingarten
President, AFT