Just how much choice they had may be up for debate, but seven out of 10 Missouri school districts are well on their way to putting the Common Core state standards to work in their classrooms.
A statewide survey by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released Thursday polled some 6,000 teachers and administrators.
Of those districts in the survey that are not yet implementing the standards, nearly half will be next year. Overall, only 16 percent responded as being “unsure.”
“The standards are crucial to ensuring our children are prepared for post-secondary education and careers,” Missouri Education Commissioner Chris Nicastro said.
The standards, adopted by 45 states including Missouri and Kansas, have been encountering opposition from some organizations and politicians. But they have garnered the support of most educators.
A survey of Kansas City-area districts in Missouri and Kansas by The Star earlier this year found that 94 percent of the districts said they support the standards. Six percent were neutral, and none opposed them.
Critics argue that these demonstrations of support are skewed by the fact that states and districts have been put under pressure to adopt the standards.
“Districts know they have to implement the Common Core,” said James Shuls, education policy analyst for the Show-Me Institute.
To say that states should continue implementing the standards because their school districts are heavily invested “is a faulty mindset,” he said Friday. “That doesn’t mean they should continue.”
The standards set common learning targets in math and English language arts, then leave the curriculum and lesson plans to the discretion and creativity of schools and teachers.
The movement for standards was launched by organizations of state chief education officers and governors.
But the U.S. Education Department’s support of Common Core has weighed on state decisions when the U.S. began offering competitive grants and offering waivers from No Child Left Behind for states whose school improvement and accountability plans met federal approval.
The East Newton School District in southwest Missouri earlier this year was the first in the state to pass a resolution opposing the standards.
Most districts, the surveys show, are maintaining their support.
“The standards are common-sense first steps toward ensuring students obtain the best possible education no matter where they live,” the state’s report said.