New Poll Confirms Nationwide Turn Against Overtesting and Underfunding

The new school year commencing this week brings new evidence of a continuing turn in public opinion nationwide against the misuse and overuse of standardized testing. The newly reported results of the Phi Delta Kappan/Gallup poll from May of this year also tell us the public wants more public investment in our schools and opposes the use of public funds to pay for private schooling (i.e., vouchers).

The full report can be found here: http://pdkintl.org/. Here are four key findings:

–Two out of three Americans say there is too much emphasis on standardized testing. The poll reflects growing discontent with the last decade-plus of test-driven education policy at both the state and national level.

–Fifty-five percent of all Americans—and 63 percent of public school parents—oppose using standardized tests for teacher evaluation.

–Americans believe that lack of funding is the single biggest problem facing our public schools.

–Survey respondents oppose private-school vouchers by a margin of 57 percent to 31 percent.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten sized up the PDK/Gallup results this way:

In no uncertain terms, the public is saying end the fixation on and misuse of testing. Americans are fed up with the overemphasis and high-stakes consequences of standardized tests. They’ve seen those consequences and effects first hand and now oppose the Common Core State Standards and using test scores in teacher evaluations. What’s infuriating is that parents and teachers have repeatedly raised the red flag over high-stakes testing, but policymakers routinely dismissed them.

The public has not walked away from higher standards or accountability. They, like teachers and their union, have a far better grasp than the policymakers, who reduced everything to a test score. The public and teachers believe measures such as student engagement, examples of student work, teacher grades, observations by teachers and graduation rates, are much better indicators of student, school and teacher progress.

Parents and the public get what’s needed for kids to have a great education: less testing, more funding, strong curriculum, good teaching in small class sizes. And, as an ongoing indictment of the inequity and austerity measures schools have faced, for the 10th year in a row, the public continues to believe that there is insufficient financial support for schools. The staying power of this finding shows that Americans understand the need to invest in schools and the resources and supports that kids need to succeed.

This poll and many others show that the public wants great public schools. If policymakers believe all kids should have equal opportunity for a quality public education, they should start listening to the public and give our schools and kids what they need for a bright future.

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