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NEA president: ‘Poll results show support for educators reclaiming the joy of teaching—more time inspiring students to learn, less testing’

WASHINGTON - August 21, 2013 -

As students and teachers head back to school, the most recent PDK/Gallup poll shows broad public support for pushing back against testing, but also finds low awareness of the biggest change to come in public education in a decade—the Common Core State Standards.

“The new standards are a potential game-changer for our nation’s public school system,” said National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel. “Instead of treating children like widgets, the Common Core will put 21st century skills into our classrooms. Creativity and critical thinking will replace our current emphasis on rote memorization and teaching to the test.  The standards will allow educators to customize their lessons to their students’ individual needs and provide high quality instruction for all students, regardless of their zip code.”

However, Van Roekel warns, it is imperative that we get it right.  This includes, he said, “informing Americans of the impact standards can have, engaging parents and families in meaningful ways, and highlighting the role we all play — educators, students, parents and community members.  Together, it is our responsibility to ensure that implementation is successful for students.”

“If we take the time to get it right, our students will be able to think critically, solve problems and apply what they’ve learned in school to their lives after school.  Teachers will be able to focus on doing what they do best—teaching—not what they’re forced to do with much of their day now, which is testing,” said Van Roekel.

“Getting it right also means having a good implementation plan so educators are prepared. That means professional development, time for collaboration and adequate resources,” said Van Roekel. “Educators desperately want to reclaim the joy in teaching—which means creative lesson plans, meaningful exploration of topics, and inspiring the joy of real learning in our students.  Common Core could help achieve that if the implementation is done correctly.”

NEA was fully engaged in the development of the standards, with accomplished educators examining the details and offering substantive improvements to the standards.  NEA is partnering with affiliates to ensure educators’ voices and expertise are leading the effort to develop relevant and engaging instructional materials and help develop the strongest next- generation assessments possible.

However, according to a new PDK/Gallup poll released today, nearly two out of three Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), and many of those who say they do know about them don’t understand them.  Even more alarming, fewer than half of Americans with children in public school recognize the standards, even though they highly value the very skills the standards are meant to improve: 21st century skills like critical thinking, communications, collaboration and creativity.

Other key findings of the PDK/Gallup poll:

  • According to 77 percent of Americans surveyed, the increase in standardized testing over the last decade has been ineffective and even harmful to public schools.   Parents and teachers know fill-in-the-bubble tests don’t help children learn and often don’t even reflect what they’re learning in the classroom.  New tests will be aligned to the Standards and will replace existing end-of- year state assessments.
  • In just one year, Americans reversed their opinion and now nearly 60 percent oppose tying student test scores to teacher evaluations.  “Parents know that children learn in different ways and at different rates.  They know that learning can’t be fully measured with a standardized test,” said Van Roekel.  “As we begin to introduce the new Common Core State Standards, this becomes even more important. We are heartened by the results of the poll—it demonstrates that parents and the public have a more sophisticated understanding of what is going on in our schools, and cuts through much of the flawed thinking that has dominated the debate about public education over the past few years.”

Note: NEA representatives served on the PDK/Gallup advisory panel for this poll. 

See more NEA resources on Common Core here.  Read’s “Bringing Common Sense to the Common Core.” Follow NEA on Twitter @neamedia and join the discussion using hashtags #PDKPoll #CCSS and #commoncore.

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The National Education Association ( is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing more than 3 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers. 

CONTACT: Sara Robertson, (202) 822-7823,


NEA Common Core State Standards resources