More Americans value the schools’ role in developing career and citizenship skills than in preparing students for standardized achievement tests, according to the 2017 annual Phi Delta Kappan survey of attitudes toward public education. Specifically, 82% of Americans support job or career skills classes, even if that means students might spend less time in academic classes. The same number also said that it is highly important for schools to help students develop interpersonal skills, such as being cooperative, respectful of others, and persistent at solving problems. Nearly as many say it’s also extremely or very important that schools offer extracurricular activities (70%)and art and music classes (71%).
The public offers little support for standardized testing in contrast to the deep interest in testing by policymakers over the last two decades. Less than half of adults (42%) say performance on standardized tests is a highly important indicator of school quality — that includes just 13% who call test scores extremely important. Far more point to developing students’ interpersonal skills (39%) and offering technology and engineering instruction (37%) as extremely important.
The poll also showed that, as in past years, there is little public support for using public money to send children to private schools. The more Americans know about how voucher programs work, the less likely they are to support them or to say they’d participate in them.
The 49th annual PDK survey is based on a random, representative, 50-state sample of 1,588 adults interviewed by cell or landline telephone, in English or Spanish, in May 2017. A full copy of the survey results can be found here.