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Teachers Feel Worried, Frustrated About Common Core

Teachers Feel Worried, Frustrated About Common Core

by Alyssa Davis

Story Highlights

  • More than six in 10 teachers are worried, frustrated
  • Less than three in 10 feel confident, enthusiastic
  • Those who already implemented Common Core feel more positive

This article is part of a series on parents' and teachers' attitudes about the Common Core State Standards.

WASHINGTON, D.C -- When Gallup asked U.S. public school teachers if they are experiencing each of seven possible emotional reactions to the new curriculum standards initiative, 65% said they are worried and 62% frustrated. Nearly half agreed they feel hopeful, but relatively few said they feel confident (27%) or enthusiastic (20%).

U.S. Public School Teachers' Agreement With Seven Emotional Reactions to the Common Core

About one in four teachers are angry, but the majority of teachers, 57%, say they are resigned to it -- perhaps best summing up teachers' collective mindset.

While teachers' emotional reactions to Common Core and possibly having to implement it in their classrooms tilt negative, Gallup previously found their reaction to the overall initiative is more evenly split: 41% of all public school teachers view the program positively and 44% negatively.

The Common Core State Standards define what K-12 students across the country should master in English language arts and math at the end of each grade. The reactions of teachers working in the 43 states, and District of Columbia, that are currently on board with the Common Core State Standards are similar to the overall national averages.

However, not all schools that have adopted the standards have yet implemented them in the curricula -- thus teachers' views about Common Core reflect various levels of direct experience vs. assumptions about the program. Importantly, Gallup finds that teachers who say their school fully implemented the Common Core curricula standards in the 2013-2014 school year are no more or less likely to agree with the negative emotions tested than the overall average. But they are more likely than public school teachers overall to say they feel confident about the initiative and are somewhat more likely to feel hopeful and enthusiastic about it.

These findings are based on an online Gallup Panel survey with 854 public school teachers in grades K-12 across the country. Gallup Panel teachers with Web access (95% of teacher panelists) were invited to take the Common Core survey online between Aug. 11 and Sept. 7, 2014.

States and Districts Flunking on Sufficiently Supporting Teachers

Teachers' high levels of agreement with the possible negative reactions to Common Core tested in the survey may partially reflect the lack of support many teachers feel they are getting from their state or school district. More teachers working in states where Common Core has been adopted say they have not received sufficient support (47%) than say they have (31%).

Within the Common Core states, teachers working at schools that fully implemented the Common Core standards in the last school year are significantly more likely than their peers and those working in schools that partially implemented Common Core to say they are getting the support they need from their state or school district.

U.S. Public School Teachers' Emotional Reactions to Common Core, by Support

Supported Teachers Feel More Confident, Less Frustrated With Common Core

Teacher perceptions about the presence or absence of sufficient support from the state or school district are strongly linked to how they feel about Common Core. Teachers who feel they are receiving adequate support are significantly more likely than those who do not to say they are enthusiastic, hopeful and confident about Common Core. Similarly, supported teachers are much less likely than those lacking support to say they are frustrated, worried, angry and resigned to Common Core.

Of all the emotional reactions to Common Core that Gallup measured, supported vs. non-supported teachers exhibit the largest differences in reported feelings of frustration and confidence.

U.S. Public School Teachers' Views on Support in Regard to Common Core


Public school teachers nationwide are much more likely to report feeling worried and frustrated by Common Core so far than confident and enthusiastic about it. Teachers in states that have adopted the Common Core State Standards also tend to report more negative than positive emotions about Common Core, but are somewhat more likely to agree with several positive emotional reactions.

These predominately negative emotional reactions to Common Core may be related to teachers' concerns about testing students on the new standards and linking test scores to teacher evaluations. Gallup previously found that 89% of public school teachers agree that linking teacher evaluations to student test scores on the Common Core is unfair to teachers and 78% agree that testing done to monitor student progress takes too much classroom time away from teaching.

Teachers' feelings of worry and frustration also may be partially driven by the lack of support that teachers feel their state or school district is giving them to help implement the standards. While the states clearly delineate the standards that teachers must use, the implementation of Common Core, including how to support teachers as they help students reach the standards, is up to states and school districts to determine. If sufficiently supporting teachers were a test, states and school districts would thus far be earning a failing grade.

As more states implement the Common Core standards in the 2014-2015 school year, providing teachers with the support they need will likely be integral to the program's success. Teachers who feel they are sufficiently supported are much more likely to feel confident and much less likely to feel frustrated and worried about Common Core. Teachers who feel confident about the program can probably spend more of their time and energy developing strategies to help their students successfully reach the standards -- and less time figuring out how to implement them.

Survey Methods

Results are based on Web interviews conducted Aug. 11-Sept. 7, 2014, via the Gallup Panel, with a random sample of 854 public school teachers, aged 18 and older, with Internet access, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of public school teachers, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. For results based on the 712 public school teachers living in states that have adopted Common Core, the margin of sampling error is ±5 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Demographic weighting targets are based on the weighted demographic distribution of Gallup's nationally representative nightly poll respondents identified as teachers over a period of four years. Gallup Panel members are selected using probability-based methods including random-digit-dial (RDD) methods for selection of landline and cellphone numbers, and address-based-sampling (ABS).

Learn more about how the Gallup Panel works.

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