Teachers speak out on Common Core Standards

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday
Education Commissioner Terry Holliday

Scholastic recently released some early results from the third edition of Primary Sources, a survey of more than 20,000 teachers across the nation. The early release highlighted three major findings concerning teachers’ views on the Common Core State Standards, which in Kentucky are called the Kentucky Core Academic Standards. Here are the key findings.

Awareness – Teachers’ awareness of the Common Core State Standards is now universal. Approximately 97 percent of teachers surveyed were aware of the Common Core State Standards.

Impact – Teachers expect the Common Core to enhance students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills. This is especially true of teachers who have the most experience with standards including math and English/language arts teachers, and those who teach elementary grades.

Implementation – Teachers are enthusiastic about implementation. At the same time, teachers share the realistic view that implementation is going to be challenging and have concerns for specific student populations, but are able to point to supports and resources needed to help these students.

I really enjoyed reading a few of the quotes from teachers:

“I think it’s about time that we implement the Common Core State Standards. It’ll give consistency district to district. We should have done this years ago.”

“It’s going to be a huge mind shift for both students and teachers. With Common Core, we need to allow for exploration so students can learn more ‘why’ now.”

“I feel strongly that the Common Core State Standards will do wonders for education. For the first time in a long time, I think education is getting back on track.”

With all the political gamesmanship over the Common Core State Standards, it is essential that we listen to our teachers. So, I have asked staff to survey Kentucky teachers with questions similar to those in Primary Sources. I believe the results will be even more positive from Kentucky teachers because they have been working to implement the standards since 2010. Once we have the response back from our teachers, we will provide this information to the House and Senate Education members and hope that they listen to teachers rather than special interest groups who are spreading misinformation about the Common Core State Standards.

Also, this week I read an article that reported the Common Core State Standards have strong support from the military. Military children will relocate at least twice during their school careers and having common standards across states will allow them to continue their education with the least amount of disruption. In addition, common standards will help Department of Defense Schools raise educational expectations, and improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Kentucky is home to two military bases – Fort Campbell and Fort Knox. Both bases work closely with local school districts. By using common standards across states, those children who move into Kentucky from other states will have an easier transition.


  1. As a 6th grade math and social studies teacher I see first hand the product coming out of our elementary school with the new standards. While I think the concept of having standards across the board to bring consistency to schools across the state the actual standards probably need to be adjusted somewhat.

    I do not think they focus enough on many of the basic skills that kids need to advance later on. I realize that this is not the current mindset of the education world but drilling facts such as multiplication tables and other basic math concepts needs to become more of a focus versus the problem solving which can come later. Eliminating calculators from the elementary grades would be helpful as well. Some of the concepts taught in the 6th grade should be left until later when the kids brains are more fully developed and able to comprehend more of the abstract ideas of algebra. The standards leave out important components such as adding and subtracting fractions in the 6th grade as well.

    In the areas of writing to bring back script writing and penmanship as a focus as well. Too many kids when they get to me in the 6th grade and even other kids outside my school do not know how to even read cursive writing. With electronic devices the focus has shifted away from these types of fine motor skills.

    After working with the standards for a few years an edit of them is probably in order.

    Thank you for your time and look forward to hearing a reply to your thoughts on the matter.