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National PTA Reacts to Findings from 2015 PDK/Gallup Opinion Poll on the Nation's Public Schools

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Heidi May Wilson, Media Relations Manager

Findings, coupled with results of recent Center for American Progress and Education Next polls, underscore need for ongoing education on Common Core

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Aug. 24, 2015) — Today, PDK and Gallup released the results from the 2015 Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The findings demonstrate a continued need for a robust and collaborative education effort around the Common Core State Standards and student assessment, as well as greater investments in education. The results align with top priorities of National PTA to support and empower families and ensure all children are provided a high-quality education that enables them to reach their full potential.

In the poll, Americans and parents named academic standards as one of the five biggest problems facing the public schools in their community. Only 6% of Americans said they believe that the student achievement standards in the schools in their community are too high with 39% believing they are too low.

“High-quality academic standards like Common Core are vital to raise the bar and ensure every student receives a world-class education that prepares him or her for success upon graduation from high school,” said Laura Bay, president of National PTA. “National PTA has found that the concerns around Common Core are not with the standards themselves, but rather with implementation, aligned curriculum, testing and accountability. Once these issues are separated out, people strongly support high standards like Common Core.”

While the PDK/Gallup poll shows that 54% of Americans oppose the Common Core State Standards, other recent polls dig deeper and provide insight that demonstrates confusion surrounding the standards. According to a poll conducted by the Center for American Progress, 49% of voters mistakenly think Common Core prescribes a specific curriculum. Additionally, a poll administered by Education Next found that 58% of the public is uncertain whether their district is using Common Core.

“In the Center for American Progress poll, 90% of voters indicated that they agree that we should raise our nation’s academic standards so that the U.S. can be more competitive with other countries. Seventy-nine percent of voters also said they agree that we should create a set of high-quality academic standards and let communities develop their own curriculum and strategies to meet these goals,” added Nathan R. Monell, CAE, executive director of National PTA. “National PTA remains committed to working closely with families, educators, administrators, policymakers and other stakeholders to provide complete and accurate information about Common Core and increase understanding of these and other high-quality standards.”

In addition to naming academic standards as one of the biggest problems, 64% of Americans polled said that there is too much emphasis on standardized testing in schools. At the same time, only 16% of Americans think that scores on standardized tests provide the most accurate picture of a student’s academic progress.

“Standardized tests are important to assess student learning and ensure that all students receive a high-quality education. The results from these tests provide much-needed information about how students are performing and provide opportunities for early intervention when they fall behind,” Bay said. “While standardized tests are essential to student achievement and school improvement, National PTA believes that a valid assessment should not consist of only a single test score, and at no time should a single test be considered the sole determinant of a student’s academic or work future. Rather, the information gathered from assessments should guide instruction and provide teachers and families with the opportunity to better meet the needs of their students.”

For the 10th consecutive year, poll participants identified lack of financial support as the biggest problem facing school systems in America. 

“It is a top priority of National PTA to continue to advocate for greater investment in education as it is critical to children’s and the nation’s long-term success,” Monell added.

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of parent involvement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c) (3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth.