Panel Paper: Changes in Teachers' Knowledge and Instructional Practice Related to Common Core State Standards

Friday, November 9, 2018
8209 - Lobby Level (Marriott Wardman Park)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Julia H Kaufman, V. Darleen Opfer, Michelle Bongard and Joseph Pane, RAND Corporation

During the past decade, 45 U.S. states and the District of Columbia adopted the Common Core State Standards for mathematics and English language arts (ELA), which have been judged both as more coherent and more rigorous than previous standards (Porter et al, 2011; Schmidt and Houang, 2012). While 24 of those states have since made changes to their standards, analyses suggest that most of these states have retained standards closely aligned with key tenets of the Common Core State Standards (Achieve, 2017; Norton, Ash & Ballinger, 2017; Korn, Gamboa & Polikoff, 2016).

Before standards can impact what students learn, they must lead to changes in teachers’ knowledge and instructional practice. Kane et al. (2015) has indicated that teachers in some states fully embraced standards and reported making considerable changes to their teaching. On the other hand, some reports (Opfer, Kaufman & Thompson, 2016; Kaufman, Opfer, Pane & Thompson, 2018) have documented that majorities of teachers across the U.S did not know which approaches were aligned with their state standard, which calls into question the extent to which teachers can be taking up those approaches in the classroom. Research has not yet examined the extent to which Common Core State Standards may actually be leading to shifts in teachers’ understanding of their state standards and what they do in the classroom.

In this paper, we examine longitudinal changes in teachers’ survey self-reports about their knowledge of their state standards, the standards-aligned materials they use in their classroom, and their standards-aligned instructional practice. To conduct this research, we draw upon the RAND American Teacher Panel (ATP). The ATP is a nationally-representative, longitudinal sample of teachers who have agreed to respond to periodic education-related surveys. To date, ATP teachers have received three surveys on their knowledge of their standards and standards-aligned practices in the spring of three separate years: 2015, 2016 and 2017. This paper presents results regarding any significant changes in what the same teachers reported about their standards-aligned knowledge and practice from 2015 to 2017.

Preliminary analyses indicate increases in teachers’ use of some online standards-aligned materials and some standards-aligned instructional practices for English Language Arts. On the other hand, we observe decreases in teachers’ reports about some standards-aligned practices related to students’ speaking and writing skills and almost no change in teachers’ reported knowledge about Common Core State Standards.

These findings suggest that teachers may have growing awareness of what materials and practices are aligned with their standards and, thus, may be engaging more in practices that they believe are aligned with their standards. That said, teachers’ deeper knowledge of their standards may be more difficult shift through policies like state standards, although the shifts we have observed in teachers’ practice may influence their knowledge over the next several years. These findings have implications for policies related to state standards and approaches to standards implementation.

Full Paper: