Cover: What Supports Do Teachers Need to Help Students Meet Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy?

What Supports Do Teachers Need to Help Students Meet Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy?

Findings from the American Teacher and American School Leader Panels

Published Dec 19, 2016

by Julia H. Kaufman, Laura S. Hamilton, Brian M. Stecher, Scott Naftel, Michael W. Robbins, Lindsey E. Thompson, Chandra Garber, Susannah Faxon-Mills, V. Darleen Opfer

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Research Question

  1. What supports do teachers need to help students meet state standards for English language arts and literacy?

New state standards for what students should learn in English language arts and literacy — including Common Core State Standards — have changed expectations for what teachers should know and be able to do in their classrooms. However, policymakers and school leaders have insufficient evidence about whether teachers feel they are prepared to address these standards in the classroom and what additional professional development opportunities might be helpful. This report provides U.S. educators' perspectives on their readiness and needs for support to help students meet state standards. Findings are drawn from surveys of the American Teacher and School Leader panels, national samples of K–12 teachers and school leaders. Among other things, the surveys asked about teachers' preparedness to help their students meet the standards, the focus of their current professional development, and additional teacher professional development needs related to state English language arts and literacy standards.

Key Findings

The Majority of K–12 Teachers Are Expected to Address State English Language Arts (ELA) and Literacy Standards but Many May Need Additional Support to Do So

  • At least three-quarters of K–12 teachers in each of the core subjects reported being expected to address state ELA/literacy standards in their instruction.
  • ELA teachers in Common Core states reported less familiarity with their state ELA/literacy standards than ELA teachers in non-Common Core states.
  • Professional development topics for which teachers reported highest needs included writing instruction and differentiation of instruction for students at different achievement levels.
  • The majority of non-ELA teachers expected to address ELA/literacy standards felt not at all or only slightly prepared to do so, were not familiar enough with the standards to use them in lesson planning, and had a high need for professional development related to the standards.


  • States and districts should provide professional learning opportunities for teachers that go beyond conveying general information about ELA/literacy standards and target more in-depth instructional needs related to standards.
  • States and districts may wish to target professional development on writing and on differentiation of instruction for students at different achievement levels, students with disabilities, and English language learners.
  • States and districts should develop strategies for supporting teachers of all core subjects who are expected to address state ELA/literacy standards.

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