Americans like Common Core, but support is falling

Americans generally support the Common Core education standards, but support is waning, according to poll analysis from the conservative American Enterprise Institute.

"We can say confidently that the Common Core still generally enjoys majority support, that it has seen a dramatic erosion in its level of support and that the degrees of support one finds depend enormously on how polling questions are phrased," AEI education scholar Frederick Hess and research assistant Kelsey Hamilton wrote.

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Although there are many polls on Common Core, Hess and Hamilton narrowed their focus to two national polls. One was conducted by Gallup, the other by Education Next. The two researchers used those surveys because they felt that the questions asked gave an accurate portrayal of Common Core.

For example, the Education Next poll asked, "As you may know, all states are currently deciding whether or not to adopt the Common Core standards in reading and math. If adopted, these standards would be used to hold the state's schools accountable for their performance. Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state?"

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In 2012, support for Common Core in response to that question led by 56 percentage points in the general public. By 2015, support led by only 14 points. Over the same time span, support among Republicans went from a 54-point lead to 13 points behind. Although more Democrats than Republicans support Common Core, the gap fell from 60 points to 32 points.

To show how polls about Common Core can be misconstrued, Hess and Hamilton gave the example of one Center for American Progress poll that said "90 percent of voters agree that we should raise our nation's academic standards so that the United States can be more competitive with other countries." Of course voters agree with that. It doesn't actually say anything about Common Core, or mention any possible downsides. With 90 percent support, the Center for American Progress argued that Common Core is more popular than kittens (which attracted only 60 percent support) without mentioning their skewed question wording.

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