An annual poll surveying the public about American education found that the majority of public school parents aren’t a fan of the idea that teachers should be evaluated on the basis of their students’ standardized test scores.

From the Associated Press:

The Gallup Poll released Sunday found 55 percent opposed linking teacher evaluations to their students’ test scores. Among those with children in public schools opposition was stronger, at 63 percent.

Standardized tests are necessary, but there’s an overreliance on them, said Joshua Starr, CEO of Phi Delta Kappa International, an association for educators, and a former schools superintendent. PDK, which supports teachers and educational research, paid for the poll conducted by Gallup.

“Parents see the work their kids bring home every night,” Starr said in an interview. “They go to teacher conferences, and they’re more likely to judge the school and the quality of the teacher based on that, than solely using test scores.”

As many schools prepare for a return to the classroom in the coming weeks, more than 40 states are moving forward with plans to evaluate teachers and principals in part on how well their students perform on standardized tests. It’s something the Education Department has supported and encouraged through its Race to the Top grants to schools and other programs. While the department says other factors should be considered, such as student work and parent feedback, teachers, unions and others worry there’s too much emphasis on test scores.

North Carolina uses a system called EVAAS to evaluate its teachers, and partly relies on student test data to rate teachers’ effectiveness. Many teachers here don’t embrace the idea, saying that student performance on standardized tests is often influenced by a host of factors outside of the classroom—and outside of a teacher’s control.

A majority of respondents to the Gallup poll opposed the use of Common Core, a set of math and English standards that’s currently being reevaluated here and could be replaced, depending on the outcomes of a legislative review commission and lawmakers’ subsequent actions.

And while most supported the notion of school choice, only 31 percent supported school vouchers—a program that has recently come to North Carolina and was upheld by the state’s Supreme Court following a court battle challenging the idea of using public dollars to support unaccountable private institutions of learning.

Click here to see the full results of the 47th annual PDK/Gallup Poll of the public’s attitudes toward the public schools.


Education 1If you care at all about the actions of the  North Carolina General Assembly, your “must read” for this morning on the first day of the 2015 legislative session should be this excellent overview of what’s on the table and at stake in the world of public education by NC Policy Watch reporter Lindsay Wagner.

Wagner’s report summarizes the situation when it comes to funding, teacher pay, testing, vouchers, charters, grading, textbooks and multiple other key issues. Here’s the intro:

“As members of the North Carolina General Assembly make their way back to Raleigh this week for the 2015 legislative session, many have education at the top of their agendas—which is no surprise given that the lion’s share of the state budget is devoted to public schools.

After years of frozen salaries, the busy 2014 session saw large pay bumps for beginning teachers and relatively small raises for veteran teachers—but those raises came at the expense of teacher assistants and classroom supplies as well as cuts to other critical areas of education spending.

The salary increases also came with a promise of even more raises to come in 2015.

But as North Carolina faces a year in which some predict tax cuts will lead to inadequate state revenues that leave lawmakers with little choice but to rob Peter to pay Paul, what can we expect for our public schools?”

Click here to find out.


Members of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee gathered this morning to discuss North Carolina’s recent drop in test score results thanks to the adoption of more rigorous standards and to take a look at the state’s model teacher contract that is set to be finalized at the State Board of Education meeting later this week.

Only 32 percent of students in grades 3-8 were proficient in reading and mathematics in 2012-13 – almost a 27 percent drop from the previous year, when 58.9 percent of students were proficient in both subjects.

Department of Public Instruction’s Dr. Tammy Howard explained that the state is seeing this drop thanks to the adoption of more rigorous standards that are focused on making students college- and career-ready. When North Carolina has adopted more rigorous standards in the past, test scores fell then, too. Read More



Good news and bad news from the U.S. Senate today:

The good: Overwhelming approval of The Employment Non-Discrimination Act ENDA – 64-34. The “ayes” included several Republicans including, believe it or not, that radical leftist Orrin Hatch of Utah (but not, disappointingly, North Carolina’s Richard Burr).Wonder when someone will stick a microphone in the face of Burr and the other opponents and ask them why they think it’s okay to fire people because they are gay.

The bad: More absurd stonewalling of eminently qualified women nominees to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit – the nation’s second most important court.  

Good news and bad news on the public education front from NC Policy Watch reporter Lindsay Wagner:

The good: North Carolina fourth and eighth graders continue to do better than average on the National Assessment of Educational Progress tests.

The bad: Really lousy new numbers for NC students on standardized tests as the state moves to align with the much more rigorous demands of the Common Core education standards. The Common Core, of course, has been a target of frequent attacks from the right (and some progressives).

Good news and bad news from the McCrory administration in recent days: Read More


North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction has been warning the public for weeks that student performance on standardized tests this year will be dramatically lower than in years past, reflecting the state’s move to align with the more rigorous Common Core standards as well as other college and career readiness standards in all subject areas.

Only 32 percent of students in grades 3-8 were proficient in reading and mathematics in 2012-13 — that’s almost a 27 percent drop from 2011-12, when 58.9 percent of students were proficient. The overall composite proficiency score for all state tests is 44.7 percent, down from 77.9 percent in 2011-12, a 33 percent drop.

The executive summary of the scores can be read here.

“Today we expect student mastery that demonstrates students are on their way to being career and college ready,” said State Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson, who explained that as a result of the higher standards, 2012-13 should be regarded as a transitional year and comparisons to previous years cannot be made.
Read More