HPU Poll: North Carolinians Rate Public School System, Teacher Pay and More

HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 18, 2015 – For the second consecutive year, the High Point University Poll has surveyed North Carolina residents on the state of the public education system. The poll finds that more than half (54 percent) of North Carolinians believe that the North Carolina education system is going in the wrong direction. In 2014, 60 percent believed that education was going in the wrong direction. If a grade of A, B, C, D or F were given to North Carolina schools, 45 percent would give the school systems a C and 20 percent would give them a B. In 2014, 40 percent gave schools a C and 22 percent, a B.

North Carolinians are virtually tied when it comes to whether or not the state should give schools a grade based on their test scores. Forty-six percent believe that the state should give schools a grade of A, B, C, D, or F for their test scores and 48 percent do not.

All N.C. schools received a grade for the first time in 2015 in a plan approved by the N.C. General Assembly. While several factors are included in the grade, actual student performance on standardized testing is weighted 80 percent and student growth is weighted 20 percent. Sixty-one percent believed that school grades should place more emphasis on student improvement compared to 30 percent who favored placing more emphasis on student proficiency.

An overwhelming 85 percent of North Carolinians believe that public school teachers are paid too little; 74 percent indicate a willingness to support a law that would spend public dollars in order to make high quality preschool available to every child in America who would qualify for a free lunch; and 71 percent believe the loss of teacher assistant positions across the state will have a negative impact on quality of public schools. Citizens were also willing to provide more funding for schools that offer exceptional children’s programs (90 percent), low income students (80 percent), and English language learners (74 percent).

Forty percent believe that a $4,200 voucher, which would go to low income families to attend private school, would have a positive impact. With $50 million dollars to be allocated in 2015 alone, 39 percent believe that it would have a negative impact.

“Based on the last two HPU Education Polls, North Carolina citizens do not believe that education in our state is going in the right direction but indicate a willingness to invest in preschool programs, increased teacher pay, more funding for schools and programs for students with disabilities, disadvantaged students, English Language learners, and more funding for teacher assistants,” said Dr. Don Martin, HPU professor in Educational Leadership and former superintendent of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools. “The jury is still out on voucher programs. By a 2-1 margin, citizens believe that letter grades for N.C. schools should place more emphasis on student improvement instead of proficiency. Hopefully, the members of the N.C. General Assembly will study these results and respond.”

All adults – Direction of N.C. public education – 2015

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 – 33 percent

Wrong direction – 54 percent

Don’t know – 13 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Direction of N.C. public education – 2014

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 Jan. 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Grade N.C. public schools – 2015

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 – 4 percent

B – 20 percent

C – 45 percent

D – 18 percent

F – 8 percent

Don’t know – 5 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Grade N.C. public schools – 2014

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 Jan. 26 – 30, 2014, n = 421 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Grading Schools Based on Test Scores – 2015

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

Yes – 46 percent

No – 48 percent

Don’t know/refused – 5 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Rating Schools Emphasis – 2015

I am going to read two statements about how to rate the quality of schools. Please tell me whether the first statement or the second statement is closer to your view. In rating schools, there should be more emphasis on how much students improve overall OR in rating schools, there should be more emphasis on how many students attain a particular level of proficiency.

More emphasis on overall improvement – 61 percent

More emphasis on how many students attain proficiency – 30 percent

Neither – 1 percent

Both – 5 percent

Don’t know/refused – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – North Carolina Teacher Pay – 2015

Based on what you know about this issue, would you say that North Carolina public school teachers are paid too little, about the right amount, or too much?

Too little – 85 percent

About right – 9 percent

Too much – 1 percent

Don’t know/refused – 6 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All Adults – Government Spending for High-Quality Preschools – 2015

Would you vote for or against a law that would spend government money to establish federal and state programs making high-quality preschools available to every child in America who would qualify for a free lunch?

For – 74 percent

Against – 22 percent

Don’t know – 4 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All Adults – Fewer Teacher Assistants in N.C. – 2015

What kind of impact do you think having fewer teacher assistants in North Carolina schools would have in the classroom? Would you say a strong negative impact, negative impact, no impact, a positive impact, or a strong positive impact?

Strong negative impact – 32 percent

Negative impact – 39 percent

No impact – 11 percent

Positive impact – 8 percent

Strong positive impact – 6 percent

Don’t know/refused – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults- Additional Funding for Schools from the State – 2015       

Please tell me if you feel they should receive additional funds from the state: schools with Exceptional Children programs.

Yes – 90 percent

No – 9 percent

Don’t know – 1 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults- Additional Funding for Schools from the State – 2015       

Please tell me if you feel they should receive additional funds from the state: schools with a high percentage of low income students.

Yes – 80 percent

No – 17 percent

Don’t know/refused – 3 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults- Additional Funding for Schools from the State – 2015

Please tell me if you feel they should receive additional funds from the state: schools with English Language Learners.

Yes – 74 percent

No – 23 percent

Don’t know – 4 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

All adults – Vouchers to Low Income Families for Private School – 2015

The state will provide low-income families with 4,200-dollar vouchers to attend private school, with 50 million dollars to be allocated in 2015 alone. Do you think this will have a strong negative impact, negative impact, no impact, positive impact or strong positive impact?

Strong negative impact – 15 percent

Negative impact – 23 percent

No impact – 13 percent

Positive impact – 25 percent

Strong positive impact – 15 percent

Don’t know/refused – 8 percent

(All adult (North Carolina resident) sample surveyed Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015, n = 417 and margin of sampling error approximately = +/- 4.8 percent)

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Jan. 31 – Feb. 5, 2015. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 417 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 all adult 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. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2015/02/35memoC.pdf

The 2014 survey referenced above 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. Details from this survey are available at http://www.highpoint.edu/src/files/2014/02/28memoED-UPDATE-02052014.pdf.

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 online include past press releases as well as memos summarizing the findings (including approval ratings) for each poll since 2010.

The HPU Poll reports methodological details in accordance with the standards set out by AAPOR’s Transparency Initiative, and the HPU Survey Research Center is a Charter Member of the Initiative. For more information, see http://transparency.aapor.org/index.php/transparency.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HPUSurveyCenter.

Dr. Martin Kifer, assistant professor of political science, serves as the director of the HPU Poll, and Brian McDonald serves as the assistant director of the HPU Poll.

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