PDK/Gallup Poll: Legislators Out of Step with Public on Education
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Posted by: Meg Thornton
Legislators out-of-step with public thoughts on public education
The reform agenda to cut education spending, provide vouchers for private schools, increase standardized testing and use student results for teacher evaluations runs counter to the opinions of most Americans, according to the latest PDK/Gallup Poll.
“The survey results are further proof that state and national policies miss the mark for positive change for our schools,” said Dr. Allene Magill, executive director of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). “The average Americans responding to this survey clearly see the results of lack of funding, emphasizing test results, and lack of support for teachers and schools.”
The most significant factor to improve the quality of schools according to the poll results is the quality of teachers at 95 percent, followed by expectations for what students should learn at 67 percent. However, teacher quality and school quality should not be evaluated based on student standardized scores. Only 16 percent of people believe scores on a standardized achievement test is the most accurate measure of student progress. Better measures are examples of student work, written observations by the teacher and grades awarded by the teacher. Additionally, respondents believe that effectiveness of schools is best measured by how engaged students are with classwork, the percent of students who feel hopeful about their future and the percent of students who graduate from high school.
PAGE understands the importance of quality teachers who design engaging work for students, Magill said. “We believe teachers are who make the difference for students in our classrooms and they deserve the support necessary to do their best work. That means appropriate funding, time for collaboration and planning, and less standardized testing that takes away from quality instruction.”
Magill noted that the poll also demonstrates that there is room for improvement regarding the overall perception of the quality of education in America’s schools. While a significant majority of parents grade their child’s school and local schools as A or B, that rating drops below 20 percent when thinking about other schools.
The poll, released Sunday, Aug. 23, is the 47th annual survey of Americans regarding public education. The following summary information was written by PDK/Gallup. The full report and survey details are available at pdkpoll.org.
Summary Highlights of PDK/Gallup Poll
Student engagement at school and whether students feel hopeful about their future are far better factors to consider when evaluating schools than using standardized test scores.
Overall, most Americans believe there’s too much emphasis on standardized testing in public schools, and they rank standardized testing lower than other approaches to measuring student progress such as examples of student work, grades awarded by the teacher, or written observations by the teacher. But, when the results are broken out by demographics, two important groups of Americans — blacks and Hispanics — are somewhat more likely than whites to say that results of standardized tests are very important to improve schools and compare school quality.
Americans across the board once again named lack of financial support as the biggest problem facing their local schools — the 10th consecutive year in which that issue has landed at the top of the list.
This year’s PDK/Gallup poll shows that Americans more often agree than disagree, even when you consider occasional differences between political parties and races/ethnicities. This poll also demonstrates once again that Americans, especially public school parents, pay closer attention to the details than policy makers may believe the general public and parents do, often providing very nuanced responses to questions about education.
Additional notable findings from this year’s report:
Americans split on whether parents should have the right to excuse their child from taking a standardized test, but a majority of public school parents said they would not excuse their own child from such an exam.
A majority of Americans oppose using standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.
Half or less of public school students are receiving a high-quality education, according to a majority of Americans surveyed, a response that is consistent among blacks, whites, and Hispanics.
Only about one in five Americans believes the federal government should play a role in holding schools accountable, paying for schools, deciding the amount of testing in schools, or deciding what textbooks and materials should be used in schools. Instead, Americans put greater trust in the states with slightly more indicating that local authorities should select textbooks and teaching methods.
PAGE, the state's largest organization for professional educators, is an independent association of more than 87,000 teachers, administrators and support personnel members. PAGE provides professional learning for educators to enhance their professional competence and confidence, build leadership and lead to higher academic achievement for students, while providing the best in membership, legislative and legal services and support.