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NCLB Outrages

School Reform Desired

Ohanian Comment: I wonder how many of the respondents advocating "tougher classes" have children in public schools.

ETS has issued an
Executive Summary
but so far the report is not available.

Remember the stated goal/purpose of Hart Research, lifted right off their website.

Hart research has been at the cutting edge of change in the field of public opinion for the past quarter century. Its commercial division has demonstrated genuine creativity in designing research that provides meaningful and actionable insights, and the ability to effectively harness research into clear strategic goals. I
It is interesting to see in the Summary the way the interpretation is strongly skewed to show NCLB in a favorable light.

And here's perhaps the most telling information: Prior to conducting the surveys, Hart Research convened four focus group discussions among parents of public school children (2), and high school administrators (2). Groups were conducted in Alexandria, Virginia, and Columbus, Ohio.

On the Winston Group website, we learn

The Winston Group is in the business of asking the right questions to get the right answers.

The purpose of this poll is to change public opinion.

Fifty-five percent of Californians and almost half of Americans as a whole think the nation's public high schools need reforming, and almost one-third of Californians believe students arriving in ninth grade are ill-prepared for high school and struggle to keep up, a poll released Wednesday found.

Only 10% of Californians and 9% of Americans in general said high school students are being significantly challenged by their courses, according to a poll conducted for the nonprofit Educational Testing Service.

"Most Americans feel the high school experience is a broken experience," said Kurt Landgraf, the service's president and CEO.

The nationwide survey, which included additional attention to California, New Jersey and Ohio, found strong majorities of Americans want teachers who are proven experts in their subject fields (91%) and favor paying more for qualified teachers even if that requires raising taxes (80%). They also support requiring students to pass a test on core subjects to graduate (80%).

In addition, 77% of Americans surveyed called for more academically rigorous courses for all students, while 71% said there should be wider choices of types of high schools, and 72% called for an individualized course of study for each student. Survey results in California generally mirrored those nationwide; however, a larger percentage of Californians saw a need for substantial high school reforms (55% to 48% nationwide).

The survey, dubbed "Ready for the Real World? Americans Speak on High School Reform," was conducted in April by Democratic pollster Peter Hart and Republican pollster David Winston. It was the fifth annual survey commissioned by the Educational Testing Service to tap views on education issues.

The poll findings come as educators and political leaders nationwide are debating how to improve public education and lamenting high dropout rates and slow or stagnant improvements in secondary school. In California, there are efforts in the Legislature to further delay, or even scuttle, the state's high school exit exam for graduation. The governor and a coalition of education groups are also battling over school funding in the state, which trails much of the nation in per-pupil spending.

Under pressure from community activists who feel disadvantaged minorities are being shortchanged, the Los Angeles Unified School District recently agreed to require every high school student to take a college-prep curriculum. And the district also is attempting to transform all of its high schools some numbering 5,000 students into "small learning communities," the latest popular idea for jump-starting improvements at secondary campuses.

Americans care deeply about the quality of their schools and are concerned that, without improvements, the nation will not be able to compete in today's global economy, Landgraf said.

"Americans view our public education system as central to our country's success in the world," he said, but are frustrated by the slow pace of reforms after some two decades of improvement attempts.

The survey found that about half of Americans believe elementary schools should get top priority for new reform efforts.

— Jean Merl
Los Angeles Times


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