AASA Releases Results of PDK/Gallup Poll Questions

Kitty Porterfield

ARLINGTON, Va. – School administrators and the general public demonstrate close agreement on such key education issues as school funding, the need for state and local responsibility for education standards and accountability, and what schools need to do to get an “A” grade, according to a new analysis released by the American Association of School Administrators. For more than 40 years, Phi Delta Kappa has partnered with Gallup to survey the American public and gauge public opinion on public schools.

This year, AASA worked in conjunction with PDK to survey school administrators to see what—if any—similarities or differences exist between the opinion of the general public and that of administrators leading America’s public school systems. AASA based its analysis In Education, Change is the Status Quo on survey results collected using seven of the 50 items included in the annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The seven items were administered to a random sampling of AASA members, representing school administrators and district leaders from across the nation.

According to the survey results, school administrators, like the general public opinion, believe responsibility for education lies with state and local—not federal—government: 71 percent of the general public believes the decision of what should be taught in schools lies at the state or local level, compared to 91 percent of school administrators. Both local administrators and the general public expressed a strong preference for eliminating the federal role in holding public schools accountable: Nearly all (94 percent) school administrator respondents believe the federal government should not have a role in holding schools accountable, as did 80 percent of Americans. More than three-quarters (79 percent) of administrator respondents believe the state is responsible for paying for K-12 education, and 60 percent think the state should set standards for what students should know.

Both school administrators and the general public agree that teacher salaries should be closely tied to student achievement: roughly three quarters of school administrators (76 percent) and the general public (73 percent) believe that a teacher’s salary should be ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ closely tied to his/her students’ academic achievement. More than two thirds of school administrators (68 percent) gave the nation’s schools either an ‘A’ or a ‘B’. They identified the top three actions schools need to undertake to earn an ‘A’: improve the quality of teaching, implement a challenging, world-class curriculum, and help students be more successful. A majority of school administrator respondents (77 percent) oppose the idea of charter schools, and would not support a new charter school in their community.

“The results of the AASA/PDK survey illustrate that public schools can be agents for change ” says AASA Executive Director Dan Domenech. “If anything, this survey demonstrates a strong opportunity for collaboration and cooperation between school administrators at the helm of a constantly changing public school system and those education thought leaders and policy makers pushing for change. The first sentence of this report says it all: change is the status quo in education.”

“America’s public schools today differ drastically from those earlier generations. As a long-serving educator in a single district, I can attest to the constant ebb and flow of change within a school district,” said AASA President Ed Hatrick. “Change is the one constant in public schools.”

Click here for a detailed account of survey results.

About AASA
The American Association of School Administrators, founded in 1865, is the professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the United States and throughout the world. AASA’s mission is to support and develop effective school system leaders who are dedicated to the highest quality public education for all children. For more information, visit www.aasa.org.