Survey: Americans in the dark about Common Core, not keen on standardized tests

August 21, 2013

The public’s opinion of public education is a mixed bag of approval and trust on the one hand and misunderstanding and concern on the other, according to an annual poll released Wednesday.

More than 70 percent of those surveyed reported trusting teachers and 65 percent said they trusted principals, according to the 45th annual survey of opinions about public school, conducted by Phi Delta Kappa, an association for school professionals, and Gallup, a non-partisan polling agency. What’s more, large majorities of those surveyed said they thought the schools in their neighborhoods are safe and effective places for educating children.

That enthusiasm was tempered by responses on questions about standardized testing: The majority of respondents, 58 percent, said student test scores should not be used to evaluate teachers. Only 22 percent of those surveyed said they thought testing helps school performance.

A majority of those surveyed, 62 percent, said they’d never heard of the Common Core Standards, and many respondents believed it is a mandatory federal program. The Common Core is a set of educational standards developed by a non-governmental consortium of teachers, researchers and educational experts and adopted voluntarily by 45 states, including California.

Other highlights: Charter schools remain popular (68 percent in favor); vouchers aren’t looked on kindly (70 percent oppose); investing tax money in public preschool is favored (63 percent favor); and extracurricular activities like sports and music are widely considered critical elements of school (94 percent called such activities important).

Respondents also said that while the schools in their communities deserve a grade of A or B, yet schools across the country only average a grade of C.

The poll is based on telephone surveys of 1,001 Americans ages 18 and up. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Read a report on all of the results here.

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