Poll: Public Rejects Teacher Evaluations Based on Student Test Scores

Kal_MS_GeographyMore evidence that the country is waking up to toxic standardized testing can be found in the new PDK/Gallup poll on the Public’s Attitude Towards Public Schools. According to the poll released on Tuesday, only 38 percent of the public – and only 31 percent of parents – support using  student standardized test scores to evaluate teachers, opposition that is trending upward. This result conforms with findings from an earlier PDK poll released in August that revealed that the public was in general becoming more and more fed up with high-stakes testing’ s impact on how and what students learn.

Every year, PDK and Gallup collaborate on the Annual Poll of the Public’s Attitude Towards the Public Schools. This year, the results were released in two stages. The first focused on the federal initiatives to improve education. This second round of results issued today focuses on teacher quality, school curriculum and higher education.

While support for evaluating teachers using student test scores is dropping, the public is demanding new initiatives to improve teacher recruitment and preparation. Sixty percent of respondents believe entrance requirements to education schools should be raised and 67 percent said student teaching should last anywhere from 1 to 2 years.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that Americans want great teachers in their classrooms,” said William Bushaw, CEO of PDK International. “But it appears we’ve reached a real turning point in public attitudes. While we can speculate about all the factors that brought us here, there’s no longer any questions about whether the public supports a major overhaul in the preparation and evaluation of teachers.”

The National Education Association believes all teachers should be “profession-ready” from day one in the classroom and has been working on strategies to better support, train, and preparing burgeoning educators (read more about that here).

The poll also reveals some rather unsettling attitudes about the value of higher education. Just four years ago, 75 percent of Americans said they believed a college education was “very important.”  Now, less than 50 percent said a college education is very important. That’s a major drop, one that can be attributed at least in part to rising college costs. In 2010, 77 percent of parents said it was “somewhat or very likely” that they would be able to pay for college for their oldest child. That number has declined to 69 percent.

“We were genuinely surprised by the divided response on the importance of college,” said Bushaw. “Americans seem to be rethinking the idea that a college education is essential for success in the U.S. economy, perhaps in part because parents are less certain they will be able to pay for it.”

Other key findings from the poll:

  • 58 % said the school curriculum used in their community needs to change.
  • 87% agree that high school students should receive more education about possible career choices.
  • About four of 10 Americans agree that the school calendar should include a shorter summer break with longer breaks at other times of the year.

Read the full results here