Americans don't believe the increase in standardized testing has helped public schools improve, and many don't know anything about the new Common Core academic standards most states are implementing. They do have faith in teachers, though, and in their local public schools, according to the annual PDK/Gallup poll on public education released this morning.
Results from the poll -- the 45th annual -- suggest a "nation confused," officials said.
While state educators, including those in Florida, are pushing to implement the new Common Core standards in language arts and math, the public is mostly clueless, the poll found. Sixty two percent had never even heard of Common Core.
The new standards are to be paired with new standardized tests to measure whether students are mastering them. But only 22 percent of the public thinks states' current batch of tests have helped public schools improve, the poll found.
"Americans mistrust of standardized tests and their lack of confidence and understanding around new education standards is one of the most surprising developments we've found in years," said William Bradshaw, co-director of the PDK poll, in a statement.
"The 2013 poll shows deep confusion around the nation's most significant education policies and poses serious communication challenges for education leaders," he added.
The findings seem to contradict another poll that found parents think their children get the right amount of tests and that the tests provide useful information on student performance.
But that may be because the questions were different. The earlier poll focused on what useful information was gleaned from the tests.
The poll released today focused on whether testing had improved education. Only 22 percent said yes, while 36 percent said it had hurt and 41 percent said it made no difference.
Other poll highlights suggest Americans:
- don't want teacher evaluations based on standardized test scores
- think their children are safe at school and don't want educators carrying weapons
-- oppose vouchers that use public money to send children to private schools
-- think charter schools may offer a better option than traditional schools
-- view limited funding as the most critical problem facing public schools
-- would grade their local schools as A's or B's but the nation's as C's.
The poll generated lots of comments from education advocates.
The American Federation of teachers -- a national teachers union -- viewed it as supportive of better school funding.
“This poll makes it clear that the American people soundly reject the agenda being pushed by austerity hawks and market-based reformers to starve public schools of resources and fixate instead on testing, opt-outs and sanctions," said Randi Weingarten, the union president, in a statement.
But some school choice advocates said the poll's question about tuition vouchers was misleading.
The American Federation for Chldren called the poll's finding about vouchers "intellectually dishonest" because the word 'voucher' wasn't in the question but did appear in the poll summary. The federation also argued that in voucher programs the money goes to cover the costs for the child to attend a private school, not to fund the private school, per se, as the poll question stated.
The federation called the voucher question "loaded" and also noted that parents supported other choice options, including charter schools and online education.
Copyright © 2015, CT Now