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CA teachers view critical thinking most important for college readiness

Mike Szymanski | September 30, 2015

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700 new teachers in LAUSD 2014-2015 school yearIn a new survey of 1,000 California teachers, a plurality of instructors thinks that it’s most important to develop critical thinking skills as preparation for college and career. The least number ranked scoring well on the state’s new Smarter Balanced tests.

EdSource and the California Teachers Association conducted the online survey and released the results today.

Fewer than a third of the teachers said their districts have clear definitions of college and career readiness, according to the survey results. The survey is the first of its kind to ask for teacher attitudes and preparedness about college and career readiness for their students, which is part of the goals of the new Common Core State Standards.

“The survey demonstrates that from the teachers’ perspective, test scores are far less important than students developing the critical thinking skills they will need to succeed in college and the workplace,” said EdSource executive director Louis Freedberg. “But it is worrisome that less than a third of teachers say their districts have clear definitions of college and career readiness, and half say that college and career readiness is not fully integrated into the preparation they are receiving to implement the Common Core.”

CTA president Eric Heins added, “The survey shows that teachers support high standards for all students and clearly see a need for additional support around career readiness and creating more opportunities for students who don’t go onto college so they have the skills for 21st Century jobs.”

Respondents included only union teachers, who routinely oppose statewide tests as the chief criteria for measuring students’ academic achievement.

Among the randomly-selected teachers, nearly three-fourths say they are either “very satisfied” or “fairly satisfied” with their jobs. The survey indicates that nearly nine out of ten teachers support the Common Core, although nearly half support it with reservations.

The teachers said they needed more programs that link high school instruction with career-technical courses.

The survey saw differences in teacher attitudes depending on the socioeconomic backgrounds of the students in the schools they teach. About 58 percent of teachers in schools where one-in-four of their students are eligible for free or reduced lunches believe that college and career readiness is a “very realistic” goal.  But just 20 percent of teachers in schools where three-out-of-four students qualify for federally subsidized meals have similar attitudes.

EdSource is a nonprofit, non-partisan reporting and research organization whose mission is to inform policymakers and the public on key education challenges. CTA is the state’s largest professional employee’s organization, representing 325,000 teachers, counselors, librarians and other certified non-supervisory personnel.

The poll was conducted with support from The James Irvine Foundation.

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