Poll: Americans want less testing, more funding

Poll: Testing doesn't measure upThe 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public Attitudes Toward the Public Schools is out. The poll, called “Testing Doesn’t Measure Up for Americans,” is the longest continuously running survey of Americans’ attitudes toward public education. Not surprisingly, this year’s survey shows that Americans want less testing for students and teachers and more funding for their schools.

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.

Interestingly, 57% of public school parents (and 51% of all Americans) give their traditional, neighborhood schools an “A” or “B”. However, only 21% gave A’s or B’s to public schools nationwide. Additionally, they feel that decisions about education should be left to states and local government not the federal governtment. Other findings from this year’s poll include:

  • 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.
  • A majority of public school parents oppose having teachers in their community use the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach.
  • 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.

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