Polls Show Conflict, Opposition to Testing

K-12 Testing

The ongoing public conflict over testing is evident in new polls by Phi Delta Kappan and the American Association of School Administrators (AASA).


The annual Kappan poll revealed few changes from last year (see Examiner, Fall 2000). Slightly more than half the respondents supported “using a single standardized test” to determine grade promotion or graduation, with over 40% opposing these positions.


However, two-thirds of respondents said that classroom work and homework are the “best way to measure student academic achievement.” Nearly a third thought there is too much emphasis on testing, with over 40% of non-whites holding that view. Two-thirds believe the primary purpose of testing is to “determine the kind of instruction needed,” with fewer than one-third believing it is to measure “how much students have learned.”


The AASA poll, conducted in August, asked respondents to choose “the best indicator that a school is providing a high quality education” from a list of five options. “High parental involvement” and “children who are happy and like school” ranked first and second, each garnering support from more than one quarter of respondents. “High scores on statewide tests” ranked third, with less than 20% support. Asked to rate their agreement with the claim that the tests are the best measure of quality, 45% agreed but 46% disagreed. Test supporters expressed milder views (20% “strongly agree”) than did opponents (26% “strongly disagree”). Although the AASA did not include in its list of choices “classroom work and homework” as did the Kappan poll, the finding that parental involvement and children’s happiness are most important should give pause to those who reduce everything about schools to test-based, standardized “academics.”


• The Kappan poll is in Sept. 2001 issue and on the web at http://www.pdkmembers.org/e-GALLUP/kpoll_pdfs/pdkpoll33_2001.pdf.
• AASA is online at http://www.aasa.org