Poll: Americans Are Massively Fed Up With Standardized Tests

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Blake Neff Reporter
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A major annual poll conducted by Gallup indicates that American parents are increasingly dissatisfied with the reliance on standardized testing in American schools.

Gallup’s survey was conducted last May and polled 3,499 Americans aged 18 or older. One question asked respondents whether public schools had too much, not enough, or just the right amount of focus on standardized tests. 64 percent of the general public and 67 percent of parents said there was too much focus on testing.

Dissatisfaction is widespread across almost all groups. Sixty percent of Republicans say there is too much testing, along with 71 percent of Democrats and 66 percent of independents. Blacks, Hispanics, and whites all have a majority agree there is too much testing. Notably, though, blacks are more tolerant of testing than other groups, with only 57 percent saying there is too much focus on testing and 34 percent saying there is too little or just the right amount.

Similarly, only 19 percent of parents said that standardized tests were a “very important” component of efforts to improve schools, and only 16 percent said tests were the best way to know whether schoolchildren were successfully learning.

Fifty-five percent of respondents and 63 percent of parents said they opposed using standardized tests to evaluate teachers, a policy approach favored by the Obama administration and numerous conservative education reformers but sharply opposed by teachers unions.

“The poll clearly shows that a majority of Americans are fed up with the politically mandated overuse and misuse of standardized exams,” Bob Schaeffer, public education director of the anti-testing organization FairTest, said in a statement sent to The Daily Caller News Foundation. “The public opposes rating students, teachers and schools based on standardized test scores.”

Despite their lack of enthusiasm for tests, though, the public is split on whether parents should be allowed to opt their children out of tests, as thousands did last spring. Only 41 percent of the public and 47 percent of parents think that opting out should be allowed, while 44 and 40 percent, respectively, think it should not be. (RELATED: One In Five New York Students Skipped State Tests)

The public isn’t as skeptical of every approach to school reform, as the poll found substantial support for various school choice endeavors. Strong majorities expressed support for charter schools and allowing students to transfer to different public schools. Only 31 percent of people and 33 percent of parents support school vouchers, though, with even Republicans only showing minority support for the notion of letting children attend private schools at public expense.

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