Source: Michael B. Henderson, William G. Howell, and Paul E. Peterson, Education Next, Vol. 14 no. 2, Spring 2014
From the press release:
Analysis of new survey data show that public perception on K-12 education is strongly influenced by the amount of information at hand. In fact, when made aware of their local district’s national ranking, the share assigning an “A” or “B” grade to the local schools falls by 11 percentage points. At the same time, opposition to teacher tenure increases by 8 percentage points, support for charter schools increases by 7 percentage points, and support for making school vouchers available to all families shoots upward by 13 percentage points.
The findings come from the latest survey of a nationally representative sample of the American public conducted under the auspices of Education Next by Professors Michael B. Henderson (University of Mississippi), William G. Howell (University of Chicago), and Paul E. Peterson (Harvard Kennedy School). The researchers told one randomly chosen group of respondents the national ranking of their local school district, while providing no such information to another randomly chosen group.
The shift in opinion occurs because people are shocked when they learn how poorly their own district ranks nationally, the authors say. …
Key survey findings include the following:
• Nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans support common core standards, while only 13% oppose them. Those levels do not change significantly when respondents are told the national ranking of their local district.
• When respondents learn how their local schools rank nationally…
* the percentage of those giving the schools an “A” or a “B” on the traditional A to F grading scale drops 11 percentage points, from 49% to 38%;
* support for a proposal to make vouchers available to all families regardless of income jumps 13 percentage points, increasing from 43% to 56%, while opposition to the proposal declines from 37% to 25%;
* support for charter schools shifts upward from 51% to 58% when respondents learn the national rank of the local district, while opposition to charters declines from 26% to 23%;
* opposition to teacher tenure climbs 8 percentage points, from 47% to 55%, while support for tenure drops 8 points to 25%.
• When not informed about current teacher salary levels within their state, 55 percent of Americans favor a salary increase for teachers, and when respondents are told the national ranking of their local schools, that percentage rises slightly to 58%.
• However, when Americans are given information about current teacher salaries, support for higher salaries for teachers falls from 58% to 34%, an extraordinary decline of 24 percentage points.