The Public Supports Accountability and Common Core Standards



By 08/21/2013

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While many in state capitols and Washington, D.C. are placing bets against state and national accountability systems that range from No Child Left Behind to Common Core State Standards, the public remains faithful to its long-standing commitment to hold schools, students and teachers accountable.  If those in power would only remain as constant in their policy commitments as is the public at large, the country could enjoy stable education policies rather than being bounced up and down like an India rubber ball.

According to the just-released 2013 Education Next annual poll, which Michael Henderson and I discuss in an article in Education Next, two-thirds of the public support Common Core standards and three-fourths favor an end to social promotion in elementary school and support high school graduation exams.  Clear pluralities support performance pay for teachers and performance-based tenure policies.

These results reaffirm the very high support for most forms of accountability that we have observed in Ednext polls dating back to 2007.

Teachers, too, like accountability—at least for schools and students. When it comes to holding the teaching force itself accountable, however, teacher support for accountability via performance-pay and performance-based-tenure measures plummets.  Less than a quarter of the teaching profession thinks that teachers as well as students should be held accountable.  I wonder if we would get exactly the opposite finding if we interviewed students.

Below are questions and responses on the accountability items included in the Ednext poll.  For full poll results, see the table accompanying Michael B. Henderson and Paul E. Peterson, “The 2013 Education Next Survey: What Americans are thinking about Common Core and other education policies.”

Common Core Standards: “As you may know, all states are currently deciding whether or not to adopt the Common Core standards in reading and math.  If adopted, these standards would be used to hold the state’s schools accountable for their performance.  Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state?”

Public Teachers
Support 65% 76%
Oppose 13 11
Neutral 23 12

High School Graduation Exam: “In some states, students must pass an exam before they are eligible to receive a high school diploma. Do you support or oppose this requirement?”

Public Teachers
Support 77% 77%
Oppose 15 19
Neutral 9 5

End Social Promotion: In some states, third grade students are required to pass the state’s reading test to be eligible to move on to the fourth grade.  Do you support or oppose this requirement for students?

Public Teachers
Support 77% 63%
Oppose 15 29
Neutral 8 7

Performance Pay: “Do you favor or oppose basing the salaries of teachers, in part, on their students’ academic progress on state tests?”

Public Teachers
Support 49% 19%
Oppose 39 79
Neutral 12 2

Performance-Based Tenure Policy: “A proposal has been made that would require teachers to demonstrate that their students are making adequate progress on state tests in order to receive tenure. Would you favor or oppose such a proposal?”

Public Teachers
Support 58% 24%
Oppose 27 72
Neutral 15 5

— Paul E. Peterson




Comment on this article
  • Kim says:

    Have you asked the teachers the concern they have? I will say that no one learns in a linear fashion no matter what the age. By demanding results that show linear growth we are handicapping both our teachers in their ability to help students learn and the students actually gaining knowledge instead.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Before becoming a teacher, I worked for several Fortune 500 companies. Never was my salary merit-based; only my annual bonus was subject to fluctuation. I’m sure teachers would be more open to the idea of merit pay if it meant they were eligible for bonuses. If the salaries of teachers become subject to up-and-down swings, good luck recruiting anyone into teaching who wishes to own a home or send their children to college.

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