Monday, August 19, 2013

Survey: Parents’ Attitudes on the Quality of Education in the United States

The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a national survey of 1,025 parents or guardians of children who completed a grade between kindergarten and 12th grade during the 2012 - 2013 school year.

Key findings of the survey include:

• Parents believe that people—teachers and parents—play a bigger part in school quality than the amount of money spent for education. Two-thirds of parents report volunteering or donating to their child’s school in the past year, with engagement going down as a child gets older.

• Homework support is significant, with 80 percent of parents saying they help on at least a weekly basis and only six percent saying they never do.

• More than 90 percent of parents believe that it is important for a teacher to be passionate about teaching and caring for the children while fewer than half say that having a lot of teaching experience is vital.

• More than three-quarters of respondents favor a plan to use public funds to make preschool available to all four-year-olds with 80 percent believing preschool programs improve performance in later years.

• Less than half of parents believe that their local schools are doing a good job preparing students for the workforce or giving them the practical skills they will need as adults. Just over half believe their local schools are doing a good job of preparing students for college and to be good citizens.

• Parents believe evaluation and pay should be based on a balanced approach that includes classroom teacher observations, student test scores, and student input. Three quarters of parents favor making it easier for school districts to fire teachers for poor performance.

• A majority of parents believe standardized tests do a good job of measuring school-wide and individual performance though less than half believe test scores should be the basis for allocating funding.

• More than half of parents have not heard much about Common Core State Standards and about one-third say they don’t know if the Common Core is used in their state. Less than half say implementation of the Common Core will improve the quality of education and 27 percent assert it will have no effect at all.

Related article:

Minority and low-income parents are more likely to see serious problems in their schools — from low expectations to bullying to out-of-date technology and textbooks — than those who are affluent or white, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Poll...

The divisions fall along the familiar fault lines of income, education and race that drive so much of American life. In many cases, it's as though parents are looking at two very different sets of schools in this country...

Among the findings of the AP-NORC poll:

—Parents from wealthier families were less likely than those from less affluent ones to see bullying, low parental involvement, low test scores, low expectations and out-of-date textbooks as serious problems.

—Parents with a college degree point to unequal school funding as the top problem facing education, while parents without a college degree point to low expectations for students as the biggest challenge.

—Black and Hispanic parents are more apt than white parents to see per-student spending, the quality of school buildings and the availability of support resources as important drivers of school quality.

About the Survey

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research survey titled “Parents’ Attitudes on the Quality of Education in the United States” was conducted from June 21 through July 22, 2013. It was done by telephone with 1025 American adult parents of children in kindergarten through 12th grade. Of the total, 624 respondents were interviewed on landlines and 401 on cellphones. The overall margin of error for the survey was +/- 4.1 percentage points.

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