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HPU Poll: N.C. Residents Give Public Schools a ‘C’

Posted on February 5, 2014.
In: News

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 5, 2014 – In the latest High Point University Poll, North Carolina residents give state public education an average grade, and say public education in the state is headed in the wrong direction.

The poll found 60 percent of N.C. respondents believe public education in North Carolina is headed in the wrong direction, while 30 percent said it’s going in the right direction. That’s compared to 96 percent of educators who said the state was headed in the wrong direction in a recent UNC-Wilmington poll.

Respondents were also asked to give N.C. public schools a grade. The most popular grade was a C, with 40 percent. That was followed by B and D with 22 percent each, 7 percent of respondents gave schools an F and 5 percent gave them an A.

“As a former superintendent of schools, it was not uncommon to read in the media that public schools were ‘failing,’” says Dr. Don Martin professor of education at HPU and former Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools superintendent. “While I wish that citizens would have awarded more A’s and B’s, 67 percent agreed that schools were average or above and only 7 percent said they were failing.”

Poll respondents were relatively split on using standardized tests to judge teachers and schools. Fifty-five percent said they favor administering mandatory standardized tests to all students in grades three through eight and selected high school courses as a way to determine how well schools are educating students, while 39 percent were opposed. When it came to evaluating teachers based on those scores, 52 percent were in favor and 45 percent opposed. Finally, 47 percent favor states rating schools based on test scores; 48 percent opposed. Respondents were also split on a mandatory national curriculum, 50 percent favored while 44 percent opposed.

“It’s clear from citizens and educators that we need many policy changes regarding the uses of student test scores and teacher evaluation,” says Dr. Barbara Mallory, associate professor of education at HPU. “It’s important to note citizens believe the state’s schools are not failing, which gives the State Board of Education and the General Assembly time to work through some persistent problems with testing and teacher pay.”

All adults – Direction of N.C. public education

Overall, in which direction would you say that public education in North Carolina is headed? Would you say in the right direction or the wrong direction?

Right direction – 30 percent
Wrong direction – 60 percent
Don’t know/refused – 11 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Grade N.C. public schools

Using a grade of A, B, C, D, and F—where A is excellent and F is very poor—how would you grade North Carolina on the quality of its public schools?

A – 5 percent
B – 22 percent
C – 40 percent
D – 22 percent
F – 7 percent
Don’t know/refused – 4 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Standardized tests and schools

Do you favor or oppose mandatory standardized testing of all students in grades three through eight and selected subjects in high school as a way to determine how well the school is educating students?

Favor – 55 percent
Oppose – 39 percent
Don’t know/refused – 6 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Standardized tests and teachers

Some states—including North Carolina—require that teacher evaluations include how well a teacher’s students perform on standardized test.

Do you favor or oppose this requirement?

Favor – 52 percent
Oppose – 45 percent
Don’t know/refused – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Standardized tests and states

Do you believe that the state should give schools a rating of A, B, C, D, or F based on students’ test scores?

Yes – 47 percent
No – 48 percent
Don’t know/refused – 5 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Mandatory national curriculum

Generally speaking, would you say you favor or oppose having a mandatory national curriculum for all schools in America?

Favor – 50 percent
Oppose – 44 percent
Don’t know/refused – 7 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed January 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

Note: Some of the questions were adapted for comparison purposes from the recent survey study by Drs. Scott Imig and Robert Smith of the University of North Carolina Wilmington of the attitudes of teachers in Southeastern, North Carolina. It is available at: http://people.uncw.edu/imigs/documents/SmithImigReport.pdf

The most recent survey was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Jan. 26 – 30, 2014. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 421 adults with landline or cellular telephones. The Survey Research Center contracted with Survey Sampling International to acquire this sample. The survey has an estimated margin of sampling error of approximately 4.8 percentage points for these respondents. The data are weighted toward population estimates for cellular and landline telephone use, age, gender and race. In addition to sampling error, factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional error into the findings of opinion polls.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/. The materials on-line include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/SurveyResearchCenter and Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Dr. Sadie Leder Elder, assistant professor of psychology, serves as the associate director of the HPU Poll.

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