Education Poll Finds Consensus among Americans on K-12 Learning Standards, Closing Achievement Gap

Charter schools, free public education for the children of undocumented immigrants and work readiness among college graduates are among the top education issues on which the nation is split, according to researchers behind anew poll released this week by Gallup, Inc. and Phil Delta Kappa International.

But there is widespread agreement on the need to close the so-called achievement gap, and general support for the Common Core Standards that are meant to bring more uniformity to academic expectations in the nation’s public schools, according to the poll, formally known as the “PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools” and themed “A Nation Divided.”

At a panel discussion Wednesday at Gallup World Headquarters regarding the poll — now in its 44th year — Dr. Shane Lopez, Senior Scientist in Residence at Gallup, said one of the findings that stood out involved what he described as divergent perceptions of work readiness among the nation’s college graduates.

The finding came in a series of questions that asked if today’s high school dropout, today’s high school graduate and today’s college graduate, respectively, are ready for the world of work.

“When we asked that question, I thought people are going to say high school dropouts are not ready for work, high school graduates maybe are ready, and college graduates, everyone’s going to say they’re ready,” Lopez said. “But only half of Americans said college graduates are ready for work. That’s a problem.”

The answers to poll question to which Lopez was referring are actually a bit more nuanced.

Polled individuals were asked to indicate on a five-point scale – with 5 indicating that you “strongly agree” and 1 indicating that you “strongly disagree” – whether today’s college graduate is ready for the world of work.

Fourteen percent responded with a 5; and 40 percent responded with a 4, which, when taken together as agreement, totals 54 percent, which is somewhat higher than “half.” <Read more.>

Via Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

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Free Fall: Educational Opportunities in 2011

For several years, UCLA IDEA, in partnership with UC/ACCORD, has produced an annual report on the learning conditions and educational outcomes across California public schools. In last year’s report, we highlighted how the “great recession” created new challenges for California’s already weakened educational infrastructure.  Now, the challenges California faces are worse.

High unemployment and decreased public education spending have moved California into unchartered territory.  How are public schools coping with falling public investment in education?  Have cuts affected the quality and distribution of educational opportunities?  How do new school conditions affect student engagement, learning, and progress to graduation and college enrollment? 

The 2011 Educational Opportunity Report draws on information gathered from California high school principals to address these questions. We surveyed 277 high school principals—almost a quarter of California’s high schools—about learning conditions in their schools.  We also conducted follow-up interviews with a representative sample of 78 of these principals, to explore the effects of changing conditions on California’s students.

Core findings from our surveys and interviews include:

  • California high schools are providing less time, attention, and quality programs. As a consequence, student engagement, achievement and progress to graduation and college are suffering.
  • School reform has all but sputtered to a halt due to staff cutbacks and the elimination of time for professional development.
  • Even as high schools across the state are impacted by declining budgets, inequality is growing across and within schools.
  • California’s high schools face growing demands from families experiencing economic crisis that point to the inter-relationship of California’s education and social welfare budgets.

Read more or get the report.

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