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Americans Oppose Closing Failing Schools, Opting Out of Standardized Tests

vAmericans Oppose Closing Failing Schools, Opting Out of Standardized Tests

The recently released results of the 48th annual Phi Delta Kappa survey reveal how a representative sample of 1,221 adults feel about America’s education system- with a few surprising results.

Although closing failing schools has become a big part of modern education reform in the past decade, the majority of respondents said they disagree with the practice.

Further, despite surging pockets of opt-out movements in several parts of the country the past two years, 59 percent of respondents said they "oppose allowing public school parents to excuse their children from taking standardized state tests.”

Perhaps more predictably, the survey found that most adults are in favor of public schools offering more options for students to develop career and technical skills. Slightly more shocking is that the majority of respondents said they would prefer additional CTE (career and technical education) instead of more honors or advanced placement classes.

"By a broad 68-21 percent, Americans say it’s better for their local public schools to focus on adding career, technical or skills-based classes than more honors or advanced academic classes,” said the survey’s executive summary.

There are many issues that the public stands divided on. The respondents are split, for example, on whether or not charter schools should be held to public school educational standards and whether teachers should move away from traditional teaching in favor of technology.

When it comes to grading education, the survey found that while the majority of respondents give low grades to the national public school system as a whole, they are more likely to rate their community and child’s school favorably.

"Among all adults, just 24 percent give the nation’s public schools overall an A or B grade; more, but still just 48 percent, give an A or B to the public schools in their community. Among public school parents, by contrast, 67 percent give their own child’s school an A or B.”

This is similar to what another education survey found earlier this month.

The 10th annual national poll of education released by Education Next found that the respondents gave their local schools a solid “B” while they gave national schools a “C,” indicating that respondents are more likely to rate things favorably when they are familiar with them.

According to Joshua P. Starr, Chief Executive Officer of PDK International, the survey results should be a useful tool for those working in education going forward.

"Our 48th annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools shows that overall the American public isn’t completely satisfied with the direction set over the past 16 years. The poll results offer some insight that should not only be heeded by the next administration but could be used by the two presidential candidates to align their policies to the interests of their constituents,” Starr said on the PDK site.

Starr urges leaders to remember community needs and wants as revealed by PDK’s poll results.

"Local system leaders face a very complex undertaking in responding to their local context plus state and federal laws and regulations. Leaders are wise to remember that they are stewards of their community’s values, as manifested by the election of local school board members, and that the community will be there much longer than the leader. To build community support for change, school leaders can’t neglect the demands of federal and state accountability, but leaders must remember that they serve their communities first.”

Read the full PDK Poll results through its Executive Summary here.

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

8/30/2016

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