HPU Poll: North Carolinians Share Their Views on Education Policy

Dec 08th, 2021

HPU Poll: North Carolinians Share Their Views on Education Policy

 

HPU Poll Direction of Public Ed

 

HIGH POINT, N.C., Dec. 8, 2021 – In the latest High Point University Poll, North Carolinians shared their views on the state’s public schools. The poll is a joint venture between select faculty in the Department of Leadership Studies in HPU’s Stout School of Education and Survey Research Center.

In the statewide survey, 31% of North Carolinians think that public education in North Carolina is headed in the right direction, while 43% say it is headed in the wrong direction. More than one quarter (26%) did not offer an opinion one way or another.

The majority of North Carolinians said that they believe North Carolina teachers are paid too little (65%), and they would be willing to pay more in taxes to raise teacher pay to the national average within five years (51%).

 

Grading North Carolina Public Schools

North Carolinians on average gave their local public schools a “C+” for their response to COVID-19. When asked, 16% said their local public schools should receive a grade of “A” on a scale of A to F for their response to COVID-19. An additional 24% gave local schools a “B” for their COVID-19 efforts.

North Carolinians on average gave their local public schools a “C” for their overall quality.  When asked, 9% said their local public schools should receive a grade of “A” on a scale of A to F for their quality. An additional 23% gave local schools a “B” in overall quality.

North Carolinians on average gave North Carolina public schools a C for their overall quality.  When asked, 7% said North Carolina public schools should receive a grade of “A” on a scale of A to F for their quality. An additional 21% gave North Carolina public schools a “B” in overall quality.

Almost half (48%) of North Carolinians said the state should give schools a rating of A – F based on student test scores. Just less than a third (31%) said the state should not give such ratings. An additional 20% did not offer a response one way or another.

They also believe ratings that report “quality” of schools should emphasize overall improvement scores of students more than their proficiency scores. More (42%) North Carolinians said that they favored grading schools with more emphasis on overall improvement rather than more emphasis on how many students attain a proficiency standard (22%). Only one-quarter (25%) say “both.”

 

Leadership of North Carolina Public Schools

When asked who has the biggest influence on schools, the largest fraction of NC residents say teachers (28%) followed by parents (26%), legislators (24%), and principals of schools (9%).

NC residents also believe that, in general, most people have respect for principals, teachers and superintendents. More than three out of five North Carolinians said most people have respect for these groups: school principals (70%), public school teachers (70%) and school superintendents (58%). These ratings were comparable to respect for North Carolina’s governor (57%).

Smaller majorities of North Carolina residents said the state legislators (46%), school boards (47%), the State Board of Education (51%) North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction (52%), and county commissioners (55%) receive respect from the most people.

 

Statewide Bond Referendum

North Carolina residents generally support a statewide bond referendum to pay for school construction and are also willing to pay more taxes to support increased teacher pay. In fact, 61% of respondents said that they favor a state bond referendum to fund an estimated $8 billion to $10 billion backlog in construction and renovation.

“Once again, the HPU Poll demonstrates the average North Carolina taxpayer’s respect for public school teachers, principals and superintendents, and their willingness to pay more for them,” said Steve Bingham, professor of Leadership Studies in HPU’s Stout School of Education. “Appreciating the challenge of in-flight redesign amid the continuing turbulence of COVID-19, four in 10 citizens rewarded their local school’s response with top marks. On the other hand, the average school squeaked by with a Gentleman’s C. Finally, that two-thirds of citizens believe schools are best rated by student growth, or a combination of growth and proficiency, suggests continuing erosion of public trust in test scores alone as an appropriate measure of merit. Bottom line: things are looking up, but there’s more work ahead.”

 

Full Data and Methodology

All adults – Direction of Public Education (November 2021)

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

Right direction – 31%

Wrong direction – 43%

(Don’t know/Refused) – 26%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Grading North Carolina School Quality Overall (November 2021)

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 – 7%

B – 21%

C – 35%

D – 18%

F – 9%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 9%

On an A – F (1 – 5) scale, the mean = C (3.02) (n = 786)

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Grading Local Public School Quality Overall (November 2021)

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

A – 9%

B – 23%

C – 31%

D – 16%

F – 10%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 11%

On an A – F (1 – 5) scale, the mean = C (2.93) (n = 776)

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Grading Local Public School COVID-19 Response (November 2021)

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 – 16%

B – 24%

C – 24%

D – 15%

F – 11%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 10%

On an A – F (1 – 5) scale, the mean = C+ (2.80) (n = 778)

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%) 

 

All adults – State rating for schools (November 2021)

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

Yes – 48%

No – 31%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 20%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Influence on Quality (November 2021)

Thinking about the quality of schools, who would you say has the biggest influence on quality, parents, teachers, legislators, or principals of schools?

Parents – 26%

Teachers – 28%

Legislators – 24%

Principals of schools – 9%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 13%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Improvement versus proficiency (November 2021)

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 own view.

More emphasis on overall improvement – 42%

More emphasis on how many students attain proficiency – 22%

Neither – 4%

Both – 25%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 7%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Respect for Education Officials (November 2021)

I am going to read you a list of government officials and some other groups. Please tell me whether you think that in general most people have respect for these people or groups.

[PRESENTED IN A RANDOMIZED ORDER]

Public school teachers

Yes – 70%

No – 30%

 

School principals

Yes – 70%

No – 30%

 

School superintendents

Yes – 58%

No – 42%

 

School boards

Yes – 47%

No – 53%

 

County commissioners

Yes – 55%

No – 45%

 

North Carolina State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Yes – 52%

No – 48%

 

North Carolina Governor

Yes – 57%

No – 43%

 

State legislators

Yes – 46%

No – 54%

 

State Board of Education

Yes – 51%

No – 49%

 

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Bond for School Construction and Renovation (November 2021)

The last statewide bond referendum for public school facility construction and maintenance was held in 1997.

Would you generally favor or oppose a statewide bond referendum to provide North Carolina school districts with funds to address an estimated 8 to 10 billion dollar backlog in school construction and renovation?

Favor – 61%

Oppose – 15%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 24%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Pay for Teachers (November 2021)

Generally speaking, would you say that North Carolina public school TEACHERS are paid too little, about the right amount, or too much?

Too little – 65%

About right – 23%

Too much – 3%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 9%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

All adults – Pay for Teachers (November 2021)

Would you be willing to pay more in taxes so that North Carolina TEACHERS would be paid at the level of the national average within five years?

Yes – 51%

No – 30%

Don’t know/refuse/unsure – 19%

(Telephone and online interviews with North Carolina residents, surveyed Nov. 11 – Nov. 19, n = 867 and credibility interval is +/- 3.6%)

 

The most recent HPU Poll was fielded by live interviewers at the High Point University Survey Research Center calling on Nov. 11 through Nov. 19, 2021, and an online survey was fielded at the same time. The responses from a sample of all North Carolina counties came from 867 adults interviewed online (811 respondents) as well as landline or cellular telephones (56 respondents). The Survey Research Center contracted with dynata, formerly Research Now SSI, to acquire these samples, and fielded the online survey using the SRC’s Qualtrics platform. This is a combined sample of live phone interviews and online interviews. The online sampling is from a panel of respondents, so their participation does not adhere to usual assumptions associated with random selection. Therefore, it is not appropriate to assign a classic margin of sampling error for the results. In this case, the SRC provides a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points to account for a traditional 95% confidence interval for the estimates (plus or minus 3.3 percentage points) and a design effect of 1.2 (based on the weighting). The data is weighted toward population estimates for age, gender, race/ethnicity, and education based on U.S. Census numbers for North Carolina. Factors such as question wording and other methodological choices in conducting survey research can introduce additional errors into the findings of opinion polls. Details from this survey are available here.

Further results and methodological details from the most recent survey and past studies can be found at the Survey Research Center website. 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. See more information here.

You can follow the HPU Poll on Twitter here.

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