Poll: Parents Embrace Standardized Testing, Teacher Performance Pay

Education advocates might claim that parents are getting tired of standardized testing, but parents themselves beg to differ. According to the Associated Press – NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll, parents not only believe that tests are a great way to keep track of student achievement and school quality, the majority of them think that their kids get just the right number of tests every year.

In addition, respondents would like to see the states adopt teacher evaluation systems that take standardized test scores into account. Seventy-five percent think that the barriers to subsequently fire the teachers who perform poorly according to those assessment systems should be lowered.

“The tests are good because they show us where students are at, if they need help with anything,” said Vicky Nevarez, whose son Jesse just graduated from high school in Murrieta, Calif. “His teachers were great and if there were problems, the tests let me know.”

The polling results are good news for states looking to implement increased accountability standards and for those who want to hold teachers responsible for students’ slipping standing against other countries’ scores. Teachers’ unions have objected to linking educators’ evaluations to student performance.

Only 26% of parents echoed the complaint frequently voices by advocacy groups like FairTest that students are tested too much. More than 60% thought that the number of tests administered yearly in their schools or states was appropriate.

Although parents would like to see standardized test results make up a portion of teacher assessment grades, they don’t think that should be the only criterion used. Fifty-six percent think that classroom observation should play a part, and although firing teachers should be made easier, those who are struggling should initially get help from the district to help them improve.

The parental desire to maintain the testing and use the tests to assess teacher quality will sit well with Republican lawmakers who have been instrumental in pushing these particular facets of education reform. However, the views of respondents on Common Core Standards – which have become the bogeyman of federal overreach for many Republicans – will provide much less comfort.

Despite many Republicans’ unrelenting criticism of the Common Core State Standards, in various stages of implementation in 45 states and the District of Columbia, 52 percent parents have heard little or nothing about the academic benchmarks and a third are unsure if they live in a state using them. Still, when given a brief description of what the standards do, about half of parents say educational quality will improve once the standards are implemented, 11 percent think it will get worse, and 27 percent say they’ll have no effect.