PDK/Gallup Poll: U.S. Public Values Teacher Quality, Opposes High-Stakes Testing, Split on Opting Out

AACTE’s more than 800 member institutions are dedicated to high-quality preparation that ensures the effectiveness, diversity, and readiness of professional educators, supporting the priorities of the American public surveyed in the 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools. The recently released 2015 poll included questions on teacher quality and evaluation, standards, testing, and more, and a new online polling format captured selected demographic information, allowing for more disaggregated responses than past surveys.

The survey shows that 95% of Americans consider the quality of teachers to be very important and an integral factor for improving public schools. As in past years, an overwhelming majority of the U.S. public also is pleased with the performance of their local schools. Testing is viewed less favorably, though, including for teacher accountability purposes; 55% of Americans and 61% of public school parents oppose using student scores on standardized tests as part of teacher evaluations. Respondents also are skeptical of federal policy influences on public schools and of the Common Core State Standards.

“Public school parents understand the real factors involved in providing high-quality education for their children,” said AACTE President/CEO Sharon P. Robinson. “While it is important to have the right metrics to inform instruction, the key to quality education is teaching, not testing.”

To encourage such use of assessment data, AACTE recently launched the Quality Support Initiative, designed to support the profession in efforts of continuous improvement and to achieve accreditation. The initiative offers a series of Online Professional Seminars focused on providing professional development and building programs’ capacity for high-quality educator preparation.

AACTE also shares the public’s opinion about the importance of teacher quality. Educator preparation programs are working to align themselves more closely with schools’ workforce needs, including increasing the diversity of the educator pipeline to better match students’ demographics. In AACTE’s “Networked Improvement Community,” 10 institutions are collaborating on strategies to recruit more Black and Hispanic men into teacher preparation programs. In addition, AACTE’s Holmes Program is expanding to support more underrepresented students pursuing careers in education, including the education professoriate, in schools and colleges nationwide.

“AACTE values the insights provided by the PDK/Gallup poll regarding Americans’ perceptions about our schools,” Robinson said. “These results inform our ongoing work to improve educator preparation for the benefit of all of our nation’s students.”

For more information on the PDK/Gallup poll reports, visit pdkpoll.org.

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Jerrica Thurman

Director of Marketing & Communications, AACTE