20,000 Teachers Share Their Views on the Common Core State Standards in Advance Findings from Primary Sources

Scholastic, Anne Sparkman, asparkman@scholastic.com, (212) 343-6657
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Media Relations, media@gatesfoundation.org, (206) 709-3400

Teachers Are Aware of the Standards, Expect Positive Outcomes, and Are Enthusiastic, but Recognize Challenges, Call for Supports and Resources

New York, NY – October 4, 2013 – Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today released select findings from Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, the third edition of the landmark report series presenting teachers’ views on current issues at the heart of education. Twenty thousand of our nation’s public school teachers were surveyed, and in advance of the full findings, teachers’ views on the Common Core State Standards are now available.

Ninety-seven percent of teachers surveyed are aware of the Common Core State Standards—100 percent in the 46 states that are implementing them. They are enthusiastic about implementation, but also realistic, recognizing that it will be challenging and they will need to adjust their teaching practice. Teachers also call for more professional development and resources to implement the standards.

“I see teachers’ real experiences in the Primary Sources findings about the Common Core State Standards,” noted Naima Lilly, a mathematics educator in New York City. “I believe the standards are holding students and teachers to higher expectations and providing consistency in a positive way. While implementation can be daunting at the beginning, I’m confident that in the long run it will all be worth it.”

Key advance findings include:

Overall, 73 percent of teachers who teach math, English language arts (ELA), science and/or social studies in Common Core states agree they are enthusiastic about the implementation of the standards in their classrooms. Math and/or ELA teachers (77%) and elementary school teachers (81%) expressed the highest levels of agreement, while their middle school and high school teacher peers have lower percentages of agreement at 71 percent and 57 percent, respectively.

More than half of teachers (57%) in Common Core states say that the standards will be positive overall for most students, with only 8 percent reporting they believe it will be negative. Three-in-four teachers (77%) who teach math and/or ELA believe the standards will have a positive impact on students’ ability to think critically and use reasoning skills, and nearly none (1%) believe the standards will have a negative impact on these skills. 

At the same time, 73 percent of teachers who teach math, ELA, science and/or social studies in Common Core states say implementing the state standards is or will be challenging, and 74 percent of all teachers in Common Core states say implementation will require them to make changes in their teaching practice.

"No one knows teaching like teachers.  As a former classroom teacher, I know how important it is to listen when teachers tell us what they need,” said Vicki L. Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  “The Primary Sources data show us that teachers are enthusiastic about tackling the real challenges of implementing the Common Core State Standards.  They need support, but also believe the standards will improve student achievement by preparing students with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in college and careers.”   

Among teachers who teach math and/or ELA where standards implementation has started, a majority (64%) agree that implementation is going well in their school. In order to successfully implement the standards in their classrooms, however, the top two needs reported by these teachers are more planning time to find materials and plan lessons, and quality professional development, respectively.

“At Scholastic, we see how America’s students and teachers are ready and willing in their ability to adapt to and surpass the challenges presented to them,” remarked Margery Mayer, President, Scholastic Education. “As we raise the bar for learning with the Common Core State Standards, we need to ensure that we are providing our educators with the quality resources, training and time needed to help students of all ranges of ability to achieve, which we know they can.”

When asked about student populations in their classrooms meeting the standards, teachers in Common Core states expressed the most concern about students who are currently working two or more grades below grade-level, followed by special education students. For these students, as well as for students who are on grade-level and who are English language learners, teachers rank age-appropriate, leveled instructional materials as the number one need to help students meet the standards.

During this era of change in the teaching profession, and despite the reported challenges, Primary Sources also found that 88 percent of teachers agree that the rewards of their profession outweigh the challenges, and 89 percent are either very satisfied (38%) or satisfied (51%) with their job as a teacher.

Designed to bring the voice of public school teachers to the forefront of the national dialogue on education, the Primary Sources series of reports was first released in 2009 with findings from more than 40,000 teachers – the largest-ever survey of America’s teachers – sharing views on America’s schools. The second edition, launched in 2011, took a more personal look at the teaching profession and its view from the classroom while keeping the pulse on current issues. 

In the coming months, the full third edition, Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change, will be released. It will provide insight into teachers’ experiences with and opinions on teacher evaluation systems; how teachers are lifelong learners seeking to grow in and with their profession; and how they use technology to collaborate, find lesson plans and gain support from peers. Teachers also share the challenges and rewards of being in the classroom, the characteristics of great teachers, and views on the most helpful ways parents can support children’s success in school.

Visit www.scholastic.com/primarysources for more information on the full report release and to download the advance findings.


Methodology, in brief
The findings of the third wave of Primary Sources are based on a national online survey conducted by Harrison Group, a YouGov company, among 20,157 PreK–12th grade public school classroom teachers. The survey was conducted between July 1 and July 22, 2013. The data were weighted to ensure alignment with their actual proportions in the population according to grade(s) taught, teacher gender, years of teaching experience and geography.

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children's media. Scholastic creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home.  The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at



About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people's health with vaccines and other lifesaving tools and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to significantly improve education so that young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About Harrison Group
Harrison Group, a YouGov company, is a leading market research and strategy consulting firm headquartered in Waterbury, Connecticut. The company’s cornerstone is providing sophisticated strategy, analytics, and survey and forecasting services. Harrison Group consists of a cohesive team of researchers, analysts, field experts, focus group facilitators, content-area experts, brand specialists and multivariate statisticians who deliver definitive results for many of the world’s most demanding clients.