Phi Delta Kappa, Gallup Poll Shows Parents Are Lost on Common Core

The 45th edition of the Phi Delta Kappa International and Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools finds that while lawmakers and education officials are moving ahead with the adoption of Common Core Standards, parents are being increasingly left behind. This is not the only troubling finding in the report which is the longest running survey of Americans’ attitudes to education. According to William Bushaw, executive director of PDK International and the director of the PDK/Gallup Poll, the word that best characterizes parents’ attitude towards the monumental changes in education going on around them is “mistrust.”

Forty five states are set to adopt Common Core over the next three years, with a few, including New York and Kansas, already testing their students using Common Core metrics. Yet many parents continue to hold erroneous views on Common Core, including the nearly 40% of respondents who have heard of the new standards but believed that their adoption was being mandated by the federal government.

Many also believed that CCS included standards for almost all academic subjects, which is also not the case.

While those standards will be accompanied by new student assessments, the public now says that increased testing is hurting American education more than helping. Only 22 percent of those polled said increased testing had helped the performance of their local schools, compared to 28 percent in 2007. This year, 36 percent of those questioned said the testing was hurting school performance; 41 percent said it had made no difference.“Americans support certain key ideals or goals, but don’t understand the programs or initiatives being pursued to improve student achievement,” Bushaw said. “Our local and national leaders must do a better job of explaining what they’re doing and why.”

The failure of education officials and lawmakers to clearly communicate Common Core details to parents becomes obvious when considering parents’ views of the quality of American public schools. Ninety-five percent of respondents wanted schools to focus more time on teaching their children critical thinking skills – all while being unaware that this was presented as a chief goal of Common Core adoption.

The poll also finds the public increasingly cautious about using standardized testing for teacher evaluation. This year, 58 percent of the respondents said they oppose using standardized test results for teacher evaluations – compared to 47 percent last year. Higher percentages of respondents want to see performance reviews released publicly for doctors (76 percent) and police officers (70 percent) than they do for teachers (60 percent). Sixty three percent also oppose the idea of releasing information to the media on how the students of individual teachers perform on standardized tests. Interestingly, 52 percent of American adults now say teachers should have the right to strike, up from 40 percent in 1980. The poll also finds that 88 percent of parents feel their child is safe when he/she is in school – the highest percentage ever on the PDK/Gallup poll. In contrast, 66 percent say they feel their child is safe when he/she is playing outside in their neighborhood.