Civitas Poll: Parents Primed for School Reform

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May 23, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Jim Tynen (919) 834-2099
James.Tynen@NCCivitas.org

Raleigh, N.C. – A new Civitas Poll indicates that by large margins North Carolinians support a wide range of school reforms now before the state legislature. These reforms are part of a larger education initiative that has been introduced in the state Senate.

By big margins, voters favor ending tenure for public school teachers. In two pools of voters queried, 74 percent and 67 percent favored doing away with the lifetime job guarantees and replacing that guarantee with multi- or single-year contracts.

Other measures also won widespread support. Nearly two-thirds of voters (65 percent) support replacing the current system of rating public schools with one of eight different designations with a  straightforward “A to F” grading system, like that applied to students.

Among those surveyed, other reforms had strong support. Sixty-four percent of those polled supported a proposal to require that all end-of-grade tests be given during the last 10 days of the school year, to ensure students get the maximum educational time. The idea of merit pay for teachers was supported by 80 percent of all respondents, and an overwhelming 88 percent backed creating an intensive reading and literacy program to ensure students demonstrate proficiency before moved to the next grade level. According to a January 2012 Civitas Poll, 51 percent of respondents favored ending the practice of moving children to the next grade level without demonstrated proficiency, a practice called social promotion. Thirty-six percent of those who responded opposed ending the practice.

Seventy-one percent of those responding have, had, or expect to have children in North Carolina schools.

“These results confirm what we’ve thought for a long time. People know we need to make changes in our schools. They know we can do better,” said Bob Luebke, senior policy analyst for the Civitas Institute. “This poll shows that people here are quite supportive of a wide range of education reforms. Legislators should heed this as they consider ways to improve North Carolina schools.”

More information on the Civitas Institute is available at www.nccivitas.org, or contact Jim Tynen at (919) 834-2099.

Full text of questions:  

Of the following statements, please tell me which best describes your current situation:

24%     I have at least one school age child in North Carolina.
5%       None of my children are school age yet, but will attend school in North Carolina when they are.
42%     All of my children are past school age, but attended school in North Carolina when they did so.
26%     I have never had children in a North Carolina School or don’t currently have children.
3%       Don’t Know/ Refused/Other

Which of the following describes the education setting your children currently have, will have in the future, or have had in the past:

85%     North Carolina Public School
15%     North Carolina Private School
5%       North Carolina Charter School
4%       Home Schooling in the state of North Carolina
2%       Other
3%       Don’t Know/Refused

North Carolina Board of Education currently rates every public school in North Carolina on a scale from the highest — “honor school of excellence” — to the lowest — “school of priority”– some people believe this scale is confusing and have proposed changing to a rating system where each school is given a grade on an A to F scale.  Do you support or oppose changing the rating scale to give each school a grade of A – F?

65%     Total Support
15%     Total Oppose

43%     Strongly Support
22%     Somewhat Support
7%       Somewhat Oppose
7%       Strongly Oppose
19%     Undecided/Don’t Know
1%       Refused

(SAMPLE A)
30A.    Currently, teachers in North Carolina public schools are awarded “tenure” – or a guaranteed job teaching for life – after 4 years in the classroom. There is a proposal to end the tenure program and replace it with a system of multi-year contracts for teachers.  This program would make it easier for local administrators and school boards to get poor performing teachers out of the classroom.  Would you support or oppose the proposal to end tenure for teachers in North Carolina Public Schools?

74%     Total Support
18%     Total Oppose

59%     Strongly Support
15%     Somewhat Support
7%       Somewhat Oppose
11%     Strongly Oppose
7%       Undecided/Don’t Know (DO NOT READ)
–         Refused (DO NOT READ)

(SAMPLE B)
Currently, teachers in North Carolina public schools are awarded “tenure” — or a guaranteed job teaching for life — after 4 years in the classroom. There is a proposal to end the tenure program and replace it with a system of one year contracts for teachers.  This program would make it easier for local administrators and school boards to get poor performing teachers out of the classroom.  Would you support or oppose the proposal to end tenure for teachers in North Carolina Public Schools?

67%     Total Support
22%     Total Oppose

49%     Strongly Support
18%     Somewhat Support
7%       Somewhat Oppose
16%     Strongly Oppose
10%     Undecided/Don’t Know
1%       Refused

In 2011, the legislature added 5 instructional days to the 180 school calendar by converting 5 teacher workdays when students did not attend class into instructional days for students. Because of that change North Carolina now has 185 instructional days and 10 teacher workdays. Do you support or oppose this increase of instructional days in the school year?

63%     Total Support
23%     Total Oppose

40%     Strongly Support
23%     Somewhat Support
8%       Somewhat Oppose
15%     Strongly Oppose
13%     Undecided/Don’t Know (DO NOT READ)
1%       Refused (DO NOT READ)

And please tell me if you support or oppose…:

32.       A proposal to require end of grade tests to be given during the last ten days of the school year to maximize instructional time for students?

64%     Total Support
20%     Total Oppose

43%     Strongly Support
21%     Somewhat Support
8%       Somewhat Oppose
12%     Strongly Oppose
15%     Undecided/Don’t Know (DO NOT READ)
1%       Refused (DO NOT READ)

33.       A proposal to allow local school districts to develop merit pay systems that allow the best teachers to earn extra pay?

80%     Total Support
13%     Total Oppose

56%     Strongly Support
24%     Somewhat Support
6%       Somewhat Oppose
7%     Strongly Oppose
6%     Undecided/Don’t Know (DO NOT READ)
1%       Refused (DO NOT READ)

34.       A  proposal to create an intensive reading and literacy program that included special reading intensive classes, and summer reading camps for students who complete the third grade but are not reading at grade level?

88%     Total Support
6%     Total Oppose

67%     Strongly Support
21%     Somewhat Support
3%       Somewhat Oppose
3%     Strongly Oppose
5%     Undecided/Don’t Know (DO NOT READ)
1%       Refused (DO NOT READ)

For the full results and crosstabs, click here.

This poll of 600 registered 2012 general election voters in North Carolina was conducted May 19-20, 2012 by National Research, Inc. of Holmdel, NJ.  All respondents were part of a fully representative sample of registered 2012 general election voters in North Carolina.  For purposes of this study, voters interviewed had to have voted in at least one of the past three general elections (2006, 2008, 2010) or be newly registered to vote since November 2, 2010.

The confidence interval associated with a sample of this size is such that: 95 percent of the time, results from 600 interviews (registered voters) will be within +-4% of the “True Values.” True Values refer to the results obtained if it were possible to interview every person in North Carolina who had voted in at least one of the past three general elections or is newly registered since November 2, 2010.

More information on the Civitas Institute is available at www.nccivitas.org, or contact Jim Tynen at (919) 834-2099.

About Jim Tynen

Communications director at Civitas.
This article was posted in Press Releases by Jim Tynen on May 23, 2012 at 9:21 AM.

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at www.nccivitas.org.
This article can be found at http://www.nccivitas.org/2012/civitas-poll-parents-primed-for-school-reform/

Comments on this article

  • 1

    Travis
    Travis May 23, 2012 at 16:20

    Just thought I should say some of those are badly designed questions. Design a better survey.

    Using words like “best” and “maximize’, etc. clearly instill positive outlooks in the minds of the respondents. There are always two sides to every argument. For example, increasing instructional time may also decrease the readiness of teachers to effectively teach.

    Depending on how the merit system is devised, “best” may not clearly be defined, which would make equitably awarding teachers difficult.

    Ultimately, you don’t leave it up to the respondent to decide how a certain policy would or would not affect the problems they see, instead it is suggested how it would affect said problem.

    Just some thoughts.

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