MAKING THE GRADE: Is there a difference between opinions of policy makers and the public?

By Daily News • Last Updated 4:19 pm on Thursday, September 12, 2013

Making the Grade | Janet Ralph

The current issue of Phi Delta Kappan magazine arrived in my mailbox this week. It contained the results of the 45th annual Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup Poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools.

Gallup conducts this poll annually on behalf of Phi Delta Kappan to learn the opinions of the American public about key issues facing K-12 education. Interviews were conducted 1,001 individuals from a national sample of adults age 18 and older drawn from the Gallup Panel that includes 60,000 individuals who represents more than 50,000 households. Some of the questions are the same as those asked in previous years in order that trends can be determined. But each year new questions are added to identify emerging issues.

Space does not permit me to report all the findings of this year’s poll, but I would like to share a few that I think will be of interest to readers. You may want to compare them to your own viewpoints.

According to the survey:

Fewer than 25 percent of Americans believe increased testing has helped improve the performance of local public schools.

In just one year, Americans reversed their opinion, and now 58 percent oppose requiring that teacher evaluations include student scores on standardized tests.

Almost two of three Americans have never heard of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and most of those who say they know about the CCSS neither understand it nor embrace it.

Americans said their children are safe at school, and they reject the idea of arming teachers and principals.

Americans support public charter schools, homeschooling, online learning, and self-paced instruction, but 70 percent — the highest level of opposition to vouchers ever recorded in this survey — reject school vouchers.

Americans value having schools teach 21st century skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity.

Americans trust public school teachers and principals.

A majority of Americans give the public schools in their community an A or B — the highest rating ever recorded in this poll — but fewer than one in five would give the schools nationally a B or better.

Americans said preschool programs for children living in low-income homes would help those students perform better in school in their teenage years and almost two of three Americans are willing to support these programs with taxes.

Americans do not rate redesigning American high schools as the highest priority.

I think some of the greatest value of reviewing this information is to compare it with you own viewpoints and then to use it when you communicate with the policy makers who represent you.

Janet Ralph is president of the Greenville Public Schools Board of Education.


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