Public Skeptical of Standardized Testing

Sept. 1, 2013

Much of the American public does not believe that standardized testing is improving public schools, a new survey shows, according to a new poll. 

The 45th annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools found that only 22 percent of those surveyed said increased testing had helped the performance of their local schools, compared with 28 percent in 2007. It also found that 36 percent of those questioned believe testing is hurting school performance; 41 percent say it has made no difference.

The poll also indicates that the public is becoming more doubtful about using standardized testing for teacher evaluation. This year, 58 percent of the respondents say they oppose using standardized test results for teacher evaluations, compared with 47 percent last year.

“Americans’ mistrust of standardized tests and their lack of confidence and understanding around new education standards is one the most surprising developments we’ve found in years,” says William Bushaw, executive director of PDK International and co-director of the PDK/Gallup poll.

“The 2013 poll shows deep confusion around the nation’s most significant education policies and poses serious communication challenges for education leaders.”

Most of those surveyed give the nation’s public schools a “C” for quality even though they give their own local schools an “A” or “B.”

Regarding school security, 88 percent of parents surveyed say they feel their children are safe when they are in school. When asked to choose between having security guards at school or offering more mental health services to promote school safety, 59 percent chose expanded mental health services and 33 percent chose more security guards.

Asked whether elementary schools should allow teachers and administrators to be armed, 47 percent strongly disagreed, and 18 percent strongly agreed. For middle and high schools, 43 percent strongly disagreed and 21 percent strongly agreed.

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