PDK Poll Finds Most Americans Feel Students Are More Than a Test Score, Want Schools to Emphasize Career Readiness

For Immediate Release

James Minichello
703-774-6953 (cell)
Alexandria, Va. – Aug. 28, 2017 – Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, issued the following statement today following the release of the 49th Annual PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

“America’s superintendents know that high schools are filled with innovators — students who have their sights set on career goals and who are ready to compete in the 21st century global economy. I was not surprised to see that an overwhelming majority of Americans — 82 percent — support more job or career skills classes, even it means less time on academic courses. For years, our education system has placed standardized test scores as the barometer to measure college and career readiness. Conversely, 86 percent of those surveyed say schools should offer certificate or licensing programs that qualify students for employment after graduation.

“Josh Starr, CEO of PDK International, states in the report, ‘Americans recognize that success in the workplace and in life requires people skills as much as academic smarts, and they believe that schools should focus on both.’ I could not agree more. These findings are closely aligned with AASA’s Redefining Ready! initiative, a program introducing research-based metrics to more appropriately assess that students are college ready, career ready and life ready.

“We are encouraged by another key finding affirming more than half of Americans surveyed oppose vouchers. As we describe in our report released earlier this year, Public Loss, Private Gain: How School Voucher Tax Shelters Undermine Public Education, boosting resources for private schools using public dollars would ‘starve’ public education of critical funding at a time when available resources are already limited.

“According to the poll, these issues, which have long been dominating education policy debates, ‘from supporting vouchers to doubling down on high-stakes tests to cutting federal education funding, are out of step with parents’ main concern: They want their children prepared for life after they complete high school.’

“At a time when more than 50 percent of our nation’s students are children of color, it was fitting to see that, according to the poll, 70 percent of parents say they would prefer to have their child in a racially diverse school. Along these lines, we are pleased — yet not surprised — to see that a huge majority of those surveyed favor ‘wraparound services’ such as mental health services and after-school programs. A section of AASA’s website unpacks the issue of equity and provides resources to help school system leaders and their teams succeed.

“We want to congratulate Josh Starr and the PDK team for collecting invaluable information as our school system leaders continue to create innovative solutions to help prepare our nation’s young people throughout their school years and beyond. The findings in this year’s poll will undoubtedly foster rich and meaningful conversations to effectively address the critical issues in public education. To that end, we were pleased to see that, according to the report, ‘the proportion of Americans who give their community’s public schools an A grade is its highest in more than 40 years.’

“This information is particularly beneficial to AASA, as we work to push forward our I Love Public Education Campaign (#LovePublicEducation), an effort to reframe the current national dialogue on public education to highlight the critical roles public schools play in our society.

“Once again, our thanks to PDK International for its efforts to address the hot button issues educators and parents are talking about in their communities.”

Read our blog post with additional details on the poll here.


About AASA
AASA, The School Superintendents Association, 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 http://www.aasa.org.