Monday, August 24, 2015


Politico AM Education By Caitlin Emma | Mon, Aug 24, 2015 7:03 am |

DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDE OVER HOT-BUTTON ISSUES: African Americans, Hispanics and whites are split on some of the most contentious issues in education, including the Common Core and standardized testing, the 47th annual PDK/Gallup poll shows. For the first time, the results feature demographic data. Overall, a majority of those surveyed oppose the Common Core, but African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to support the standards. Standardized testing lacks support across the board, but just 28 percent of African Americans say they should be allowed to opt their children out of tests. That's compared to 35 percent of Hispanics and 44 percent of whites. The results:

- Sixty-five percent of public school parents overall said they wouldn't excuse their own child from exams. Broken down by demographic, three-quarters of African Americans parents said they wouldn't excuse their own child, compared to 65 percent of Hispanic parents and 54 percent of white parents. "Communities of color tend to see the standardized tests as more valuable," said PDK International CEO Joshua Starr. "There are a lot of factors involved with that." He said urban and under resourced schools might see the tests as more important, but he said he's hesitant to draw conclusions from the demographic differences. He said the data is something PDK hopes to further explore.

- When asked about ideas for improving schools, people surveyed ranked testing as least important. But a third of African Americans and Hispanics ranked testing as very important, and African Americans were more likely than whites to say that student test scores were very important when measuring a school's effectiveness. Sixty-one percent of parents overall opposed the use of test scores in teacher evaluations.

- American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said the poll shows that "the public is saying end the fixation on and misuse of testing. ... What's infuriating is that parents and teachers have repeatedly raised the red flag over high-stakes testing, but policymakers routinely dismissed them."

- Paige Kowalski of the Data Quality Campaign, said "it's clear we need to have a conversation about how the information from tests is used. The backlash against student testing came about because teachers and families have traditionally gotten little value from it. Evidence suggests this is changing, but tests need to give parents more than a number that lacks context or meaning."

- On a related note, Cheryl Oldham, VP of education policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, talks about the need for strong assessments and accountability while reviewing the amount of testing that happens in schools in a new podcast:

- Other results from the survey: Americans continue to believe that their local schools are better than schools across the country. A majority of Americans endorse school choice and are on board with charter schools, but only about a third support the idea of vouchers. And students should also receive certain vaccinations before attending public school, according to a vast majority of those surveyed.

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