August 23, 2016

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Results and Trends in the 2016 Education Next Poll

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Education Next has released its annual survey of American public opinion, conducted in May and June of 2016. The survey includes a nationally representative sample of Americans and of teachers and presents 2016 opinions on education policy together with trends in opinion. 

This year’s results include two interactive graphics. The first is on Results from the 2016 EdNext Poll and the second on Trends in the EdNext Poll Over Time.

Access the report, Ten-Year Trends in Public Opinion from the EdNext Poll, by Paul E. Peterson, Michael B. Henderson, Martin R. West and Samuel Barrows, here. You may also download the report here.

Among the key findings:

  • Common Core State Standards. Support for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) continued to decline in 2016. Of all those taking a position, 50% favor the use of Common Core in their state, down from 58% in 2015. However, when the name Common Core is not mentioned, two-thirds of respondents favor the use of the same standards across states. Republicans are 22 percentage points less likely to respond favorably when the name is mentioned, as compared to a 10 percentage point difference among Democrats. Teacher support for CCSS, at 44%, did not change between 2015 and 2016.
    • Trend. In 2013, 83% of survey respondents supported CCSS; four years later it is 50%.   Republicans have made the largest shift away from Common Core over the past four years from 82% favorable in 2013 to 39% in 2016. The four-year drop among Democrats, while less, is also substantial—from 86% to 60%.
  • Tests and opting out. There is strong support for using the same standardized test in all states, with 73% of the public in favor of uniform testing; 70% are opposed to letting parents opt their children out of state tests, consistent with 2015 results. Among teachers, opposition to opt out is lower and has declined from 64% in 2015 to 57% in 2016.
    • Trend. Nearly four out of five respondents favor the federal requirement that all students be tested in math and reading in each grade from third through eighth and at least once in high school, about the same as in the past.
  • Teacher tenure. Only 31% of the public support teacher tenure but 67% of teachers do.
    • Trend. Support for tenure has declined by 10 percentage points since 2013 to an all-time low.
  • Charter schools. Public support for charter schools, at 65%, remains high. Substantially more Republicans favor charter schools (74%) than do Democrats (58%), a 16 percentage-point gap between the parties.
    • Trend. Public support for charters has remained stable since 2013, as has the gap between Republicans and Democrats.
  • Targeted school vouchers.  Forty-three percent of the public favor vouchers that would give low-income families a wider choice. Surprisingly, the percentage of Democrats who are supportive is 12 percentage points higher than the Republican percentage.
    • Trend. Public support for school vouchers targeted toward low-income families has dropped by 12 percentage points since 2012 – a major shift in public opinion. Between 2012 and 2016, Republican backing fell by 14 percentage points; among Democrats, the drop is 9 percentage points. Teacher support has slid from 39 percent in 2012 to 30 percent in 2016.
  • Universal school vouchers. Policies that would give vouchers to all families also lost ground, reaching a new low of 50% of the public.
    •  TrendPublic backing for universal vouchers has dropped by six percentage points since 2014.  Fifty-one percent of Republicans supported universal vouchers in 2014, compared to just 45% in 2016. However, Democratic support for universal vouchers increased from 49% in 2013 to 56% in 2016. 
  • Grading schools. Fifty-five percent of the public give their local school an “A” or “B” letter grade, but only 25% give the nation’s schools the same high grade.
    •  Trend. The public grades their local schools more favorably now than at any point in the past ten years, despite mediocre performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress during the same period. The percentage giving their local schools an “A” or “B” grade has risen 12 percentage points since 2007, when 43% of the public awarded one of the two high grades.
  • Teacher salaries. The percentage of the public favoring higher salaries for teachers, at 65%, reached its highest point since 2008. Seventy-six percent of Democrats favor an increase, as compared to 52% of Republicans. However, respondents, on average, under-estimate the current salary level of the average teacher in their state—$57,000—by approximately 30%. When provided with this information, backing for increases is just 41%. 
    • Trend. The partisan divide on teacher salaries among those not informed of current levels increased from 14 percentage points in 2008 to 24 percentage points in 2016.

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