The latest survey shows that 75% California teachers are satisfied with their jobs, 78% saw developing critical thinking as a priority, roughly 80% support the Common core standards, though nearly half of teachers had reservations (quite reasonably) about them, and almost all teachers consider themselves knowledgeable about what should be done for college and career readiness. That’s the good news—an engaged and seemingly prepared workforce that is aligned around raising the bar and the discourse.
The bad news is that only 30% of teachers said that the districts had clearly defined standards, 51% say that Common Core and career readiness have not been sufficiently linked in professional development, and, there are troubling differences in teacher expectations, based on family incomes.
To quote Edsource, “About 58 percent of teachers in schools where fewer than 1 in 4 of their students are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals believe that college and career readiness is a “very realistic” goal. But 20 percent of teachers in schools where more than 3 in 4 students qualify for federally subsidized meals have similar attitudes.”
We know too well about the belief gap (read, here if you want to understand more) and the effects that low expectations have on students. So we have two big gaps here to bridge. The first is the implementation gap—while teachers are aligned on raising the bar—districts in many cases have not defined, at specific grade levels, what that bar should be in an actionable way or provided aligned training around it.
Second, and perhaps more troubling is the belief gap, where 80% of teachers in predominantly low income schools, don’t believe that higher standards is a “very realistic” goal for students.
There is a lot to unpack there I am sure. But none of us make it on our own, and if our teachers don’t believe in us, and think we will make it, many of us wont. And changing those attitudes, will take more than clearly defined standards and aligned professional development, it will take changing hearts and minds. A topic for another day.