Poll: Parents Want an End to the Testing Obsession

parents view on standardized testingEducators are pushing back against high stakes testing across the nation, and, according to a new poll, parents are on their side. The 2014 PDK/Gallup Annual Survey on the Public’s Attitude Toward Public Schools, released on Wednesday, finds that an overwhelming majority of parents (68 percent) do not believe that standardized tests help teachers know what to teach.

The survey’s message is clear, says NEA President-Elect Lily E. García: Enough is enough.

“Students and teachers continue to lose more and more class time to testing and test preparation, and that time should be spent teaching and learning a rich, engaging curriculum,” explained García. “The serious consequences of these toxic tests will only snowball unless parents, educators and community members push back against lawmakers determined to tie high-stakes decisions to fill-in-the-bubble tests.”

The PDK/Gallup survey also found that the Common Core State Standards have gained greater visibility over the past year, with over 80 percent of respondents having heard about the standards and 47 percent saying they have heard a “great deal or a fair amount.” (In 2012, just one-third had heard of them.) About 60 percent of Americans currently oppose the standards.

According to the poll, however, about half of Americans first heard about the Common Core from television, newspapers, and radio. On the other hand, only 17 percent learned about the standards from teachers or other education professionals. Consequently, misinformation and confusion has permeated the dialogue.

Combined with the poor implementation on the ground in many districts, says García, it’s not surprising that the public hasn’t rallied behind the standards.

“They are victims of targeted misinformation campaigns. Some on the far right have turned high standards for all students into a political football,” said García. “Our students’ futures aren’t a game. These standards are an opportunity for all students to have access to a great education. ”

Other key findings in the poll:
• 32 percent say lack of financial support is the No. 1 challenge facing public schools. Concerns about standards and discipline problems each received 9 percent.
• 50 percent of Americans give the schools in their communities either an A or B, with parents awarding local schools even higher marks.
• Two-thirds of Americans oppose public school vouchers.

The PDK/Gallup poll is a scientifically based survey of 1,001 Americans 18 years and older and is conducted annually. This year, the results are being released in two stages. The second report – issued on October – willl focus on preparing and evaluating teachers, support for reforming America’s schools, student well-being, and preparing students for college and careers.
Read the August report here.