Interesting Findings in Fordham’s Teacher Survey on Common Core Math

The Fordham Institute released a national teacher survey on Common Core math. They conducted an online survey of a representative sample of 1,003 K–8 public school math teachers from the forty-three states (as well as the District of Columbia) that had adopted and retained the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics as of March 2015.

There are some interesting findings that Fordham isn’t going to bring much attention to, but I thought was worth noting.

There is a drop in memorization of basic math formulas and times tables.

40% of teachers indicated they have fewer students memorizing basic math formulas and times tables. Only 9% said they had more.

55% of teachers say curriculum is well-aligned with Common Core.

This appears to contradict the narrative that the curriculum being offered to teachers isn’t well aligned to dispel criticism about how Common Core is taught. 42% said that it wasn’t, but I find it interesting a clear majority said that the curriculum is.

A majority of teachers are teaching multiple methods.

Common Core had made a significant impact on pedagogy. A total of 56% of teachers say they are teaching multiple methods. This includes 65% of K-2 teachers and 65% of 3-5 grade teachers.

They note that fewer teachers in grades 3-5 and middle school believe their students can do basic math formulas.

Consistent with the expectation in CCSS-M that students be fluent in the standard algorithm for each of the four basic operations, 32 percent of K–2 teachers say that they have more students who can “do simple calculations with speed and accuracy” now than before the CCSS-M (22 percent say fewer). This is reversed, however, in the other two grade bands, with larger numbers of teachers reporting that fewer students can complete simple calculations. The results for middle school teachers are particularly concerning, with just 13 percent reporting that more students can perform simple calculations and 39 percent reporting that fewer can. (Note that these middle school students started elementary school before the Common Core standards were adopted and implemented.)

They also note that students are increasingly stressed by math standards.

In general, teachers see the CCSS-M as a source of stress for students. For instance, 42 percent of teachers overall say that they have more students with “math anxiety” than before the CCSS-M were implemented, and 53 percent agree that “expectations are unrealistic.” In each of these cases, the higher the grade band, the more likely teachers are to report that students are encountering difficulties.

A majority of teachers believe that Common Core will have long-term benefits, but not an overwhelming majority.

There is a significant swatch of K-8 math teachers are who are not convinced.

Screenshot 2016-06-24 13.19.08

Bear in mind this is several years after adoption and implementation. If Common Core is as wonderful as Common Core advocates have claimed shouldn’t these numbers be higher?

11 thoughts on “Interesting Findings in Fordham’s Teacher Survey on Common Core Math

  1. In a study done by Polikoff (2015) done studied 4 major textbook publishers on 4th grade CCSS-M only, 64% to 75% of the content in the textbooks were aligned to the CCSS-M instructional intent, leaving about a 30% gap of what is left to be taught according to the standards. Sounds like to me the 15% rule is F.O.S.

    Unfortunately, we still have teachers teaching from a textbook in this day and age. We teachers know not to trust the text, but yet we still gravitate toward them. Unfortunately, teachers who are weak in content will teach from the text. We all know the publishers are interpreting the standards and we all know that that standards were written and validated without true empirical evidence in best practices.

    American Educational Research Journal
    December 2015, Vol. 52, No. 6, pp. 1185–1211
    DOI: 10.3102/0002831215584435
    2015 AERA.


  2. If Fordham Institute is connected to the college, it receives contributions from Gates Foundation. Plus a few Fordham professors were listed in the Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance, 2013 US Dept of Ed report draft. Should we expect an objective survey on Common Core from Fordham Institute?


    • It is an entirely separate entity. The Thomas B. Fordham Institute is located in Ohio and has no affiliation with Fordham University.


    • Regarding your question… no we really can’t expect an objective survey. Well at least no objectivity on how they present it. What I pointed out doesn’t help their cause. They tried spinning the results.


      • Thanks so much for answering. Want you to know I’ve forwarded TAE articles to State Legislators and voters many times. How you report on Missouri, is what I know to be true from connections with organization leaders–so that convinces me your work is truly the Truth.


    • Shane has already indicated that the Fordham Institute and Fordham University are separate entities and not connected. Fordham Institute does receive funding from the Gates Foundation directly. As to Fordham professors being listed in the Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance report, I would be interested in more information about this. What are the names of the professors that are listed? I can find no mention in the report of Fordham, whether it is the Institute or the University. None of the listed preparers of the report seem to have any ties or affiliation with either Fordham Institute or Fordham University. I also find no mention of any ties or affiliation with either for any of the folks listed as Expert Informants for the Brief.


  3. I do not see how elementary teachers can judge the “long term benefits” of Common Core. They have not been able to judge accurately the long term benefits of any fad that’s come down the road since the 1960’s. And secondary teachers (and administrators) can be held accountable for not raising the devil to their school districts for sending woefully unprepared students out of elementary classrooms to middle and high school classes as a result of these fads, which are usually begun at the elementary level.

    How can anyone within education offer any supportable projection of the “long term” effects that may come from a massive program without pilot projects on smaller scales that could have shown, with verifiable data, the results? Such projects could have been done by Common Core supporters, but it was decided to offer the whole education system up to vendors of Common Core products before testing the program. Only with such pilot projects–with different subgroups of students–could projections be made accurately about “long term benefits.”


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