Most Americans support school accountability, but also want to hold parents accountable too, concludes Will It Be on the Test? by the Kettering Foundation and Public Agenda. Based on focus groups held around the country, the report compares the views of parents and reform leaders.
Many see the accountability movement as “profoundly incomplete because it provides so few answers to problems they see as pivotal—too many irresponsible parents, too many unmotivated students, too little support from the community, and messages from society that undermine learning and education.
Only 29 percent of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in public schools, according to Gallup polls. That’s “a new low in public school confidence,” Gallup reports. In the early 1970s, 58 percent were confident of public school quality.
Just 2 percent of parents thought that the drive to raise standards in public schools should “be stopped and things should go back to the way they were.”
. . . surveys show continuing support for the basic goals of the accountability movement—that American children can and should learn at higher levels, that students from all backgrounds should have the chance to succeed, and that principals and teachers should be well trained and energetic in helping students learn. In fact, more than half of the parents (56 percent) say that enacting proposals to measure teacher effectiveness based on student performance should be a top priority for education reform.
In some cases, parents identify areas they believe need more attention (parent involvement and student behavior, for example). In others, they point to reforms that seem to them to be getting out of hand (testing, the drive to close poorly performing schools).
Most parents value neighborhood schools, even if they’re not performing well, and want to seem them improved, not closed, the report found.