Flawed Poll by Business Roundtable

K-12 Testing

In what appears to be an effort to mislead the public, the Business Roundtable (BRT) reported survey results purporting to show wide public support for the federal No Child Left Behind Act. But the BRT news release made claims that their poll data did not support and conveniently ignored results that did not support their high-stakes testing agenda.


The BRT survey instrument contained confusing and contradictory questions with narrowly tailored answer options apparently designed to elicit support for BRT positions. It also did not provide respondents with enough background information to understand what they were being asked. The poll itself was not on the BRT website for weeks after the news release was issued. In addition, BRT failed to make available basic information on its methodology, making it more difficult to determine whether the pollster met industry norms.


Here are two examples:


The BRT press release claimed, “Majorities of parents and voters believe the reporting requirements of NCLB are fair” based on the question:


#31: Would you think it was fair or unfair if a school in your community that was considered an excellent school is now labeled as a school needing improvement because one group of students is doing poorly, even though the vast majority of its students continue to do very well.


Between 37 percent and 40 percent of the groups questioned responded “fair,” while between 55 percent and 59 percent said “unfair.” In fact, NCLB requires exactly what most respondents labeled “unfair.”


BRT also failed to note that its respondents answered that they were far more likely to trust a local teacher “in presenting information on school performance” than any other person or group. This contradicts the fundamental BRT position that standardized testing should override the judgments of trained educators.


• The BRT press release is at http://www.businessroundtable.org