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Common core writing and language standards and aligned state assessments: a national survey of teacher beliefs and attitudes

Abstract

A random sample of 482 teachers in grades 3 through 8 from across the United States were surveyed about (a) their perceptions of the version of the Common Core writing and language standards adopted by their state and their state’s writing assessment, (b) their preparation to teach writing, and (c) their self-efficacy beliefs for teaching writing. Regardless of grade, a majority of teachers believed that the adopted standards are more rigorous than prior standards, provide clear expectations for students that can be straightforwardly translated into activities and lessons, and have pushed them to address writing more often. However, many surveyed felt the new writing and language standards are too numerous to cover, omit key aspects of writing development, and may be inappropriate for struggling writers. Moreover, most did not feel that professional development efforts have been sufficient to achieve successful implementation, and nearly one in five respondents was not familiar with the standards. The respondents were generally less sanguine regarding their state’s writing test, with elementary teachers even less positive than middle school teachers on some aspects, though nearly a third were unfamiliar with their state test. A majority believed state writing tests, though more rigorous than prior tests, fail to address important aspects of writing development, do not accommodate the needs of students with diverse abilities, and require more time than is available to prepare students. Additionally, many teachers believed professional development efforts have been insufficient to help them understand measurement properties of the assessments and how to use test data to identify students’ writing needs. Teachers who were better prepared to teach writing and who held more positive personal teaching efficacy beliefs for writing exhibited generally more positive perceptions of their state’s standards. In contrast, only teacher efficacy beliefs made a unique contribution to the survey respondents’ attitudes and beliefs about their state’s writing test.

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Acknowledgment

This research was supported in part by an intramural grant from the Institute for Research on Teaching and Learning at Michigan State University to the first author

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Correspondence to Gary A. Troia.

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Troia, G.A., Graham, S. Common core writing and language standards and aligned state assessments: a national survey of teacher beliefs and attitudes. Read Writ 29, 1719–1743 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-016-9650-z

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Keywords

  • Survey
  • Teacher attitudes
  • State writing standards
  • State writing assessments