Indiana

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What The Latest Poll Can (And Can't) Tell Us About Common Core Support

Opponents of the Common Core, a set of nationally-crafted academic standards, rally at the statehouse.

A slight majority of Hoosiers say Indiana should stick with the Common Core, a set of nationally-crafted academic standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia.

That’s the latest from Bellwether Research, commissioned by Howey Politics Indiana (regular StateImpact readers might remember political analyst Brian Howey from last year’s election, when his poll showed Superintendent Glenda Ritz within striking distance of Tony Bennett). Here’s how they asked about the standards:

Common Core is a set of national standards for what students in grades K-12 should know in math and English. Forty-five states have adopted these standards, including Indiana. Some people say Indiana should withdraw from Common Core because they think the Common Core standards aren’t as high as Indiana’s previous standards and they are concerned about the loss of local control of education. Other people say Indiana should continue with Common Core, which teachers are beginning to implement, because the standards are high and that in order to compete with other states’ graduates, Indiana students need to meet the same standards. Which statement reflects your view?

Fifty-four percent of respondents said Indiana should stick with the standards, while 26 percent were in favor of halting Common Core implementation. Another 20 percent said they didn’t know.

Here’s who supported and opposed the new standards:

  • Among Republicans, 51 percent wanted Indiana to keep the Common Core while 33 percent wanted to halt implementation.
  • Among Democrats, 60 percent wanted Indiana to keep the Common Core while 16 percent wanted to halt implementation.
  • Among Independents, 53 percent wanted Indiana to keep the Common Core while 24 percent wanted to halt implementation.

How Indiana Compares To The Rest Of The Country

The best national numbers we have on support for the Common Core from a Gallup-Phi Delta Kappa poll published in September 2012.

Respondents were asked if the new standards would improve the quality of education in their community, if the new standards would make the United States more competitive globally and if the new standards would provide more consistency in the quality of education between schools and states.

Nationally, three out of four Americans felt the standards would provide more consistency between schools and states. But while half of respondents felt the Common Core would improve the quality of education in their community, a significant number — 40 percent — said the new standards would have no effect.

  • Among Republicans, 46 percent said the standards would improve the quality of education in their community, 6 percent said they would decrease the quality and 44 percent said they would have no effect.
  • Among Democrats, 60 percent said the standards would improve the quality of education in their community, 5 percent said they would decrease the quality and 33 percent said they would have no effect.
  • Among Independents, 43 percent said the standards would improve the quality of education in their community, 12 percent said they would decrease the quality and 43 percent said they would have no effect.

Why Opponents Say Latest Poll Isn’t Reason To Back Down

Common Core proponents claimed a victory Tuesday after Howey released the poll numbers.

“This confirms what we have known — that Hoosiers support the Common Core State Standards,” Indiana Chamber of Commerce President Kevin Brinegar said in a release. “Any legislator — Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal — should take a close look at these numbers; their constituents want them to continue Common Core implementation.”

But critics of the Common Core say the wording of poll questions can influence respondents if they didn’t know much about the new standards.

“Up front, the mention of them being national standards, then mentioning that 45 state [have] adopted, certainly isn’t what we would call a neutral polling question,” says Jamie Gass, who directs the Center for School Reform at the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy.

Gass also pointed out that Bellwether Research, the firm that completed the poll, has also done work for Common Core allies such as the Indiana Chamber and former Gov. Mitch Daniels.

We spend enough time talking about the Common Core at StateImpact to know writing polling questions about the new standards can’t be easy. So we think it’s worth noting that the words “national standards” also raised a red flag among those who advocate for the Common Core.

“Common Core supporters argue that this started as a state-based initiative and still is because states can pull out of the standards,” writes Michelle Gininger, spokesperson for the Fordham Institute, in an email.

But at this point perhaps the most important question is how this poll might influence state lawmakers considering a proposal that would halt the Common Core in Indiana pending legislative review. That bill is still winding its way through the statehouse.

Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.tuttle.507 Erin Tuttle

    I wonder what percent of respondents would have voted favorably if worded this way; Do you agree that Indiana should have done a comparison between Indiana’s standards and the new national standards and a cost analysis before adoption? I think it would have been 100% yes. That is all HB1427 will do and we hopeful it will be passed.

  • IndyParent

    Are there more specific results from the poll that break down results from among those polled who indicated first that they were familiar with the standards? Because of the way they were adopted before they were written and without public or teacher review, it is likely that many if those polled did not know what they were commenting on.

  • frustrated parent

    I think the poll should involve only parents who have children in school! We’re the people on the front line of this debate.

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