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Survey: Public Narrowly Supports NCLB Reauthorization

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According to a new survey released this week, a not-so-overwhelming majority of Americans favor reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act with little or no modification. The study, "What Americans Think about Their Schools: The 2007 Education Next-PEPG Survey," conducted by the Hoover Institution’s Education Next organization and Harvard's Program on Education Policy and Governance, found that 57 percent favored the reauthorization.

The study also showed that those involved in education--current or former public school employees--do not support reauthorization of NCLB without major revisions. Only 42 percent said they favored reauthorization with few or no changes.

The poll also showed a willingness on Americans' parts to reform schools with stricter requirements and changes to teacher compensation and hiring.

Ranking highest among the American public are accountability requirements in NCLB--and even more stringent assessments of student performance. About three-fourths of those polled said they favored a single national proficiency standard "rather than letting every state set its own proficiency standards." Eighty-one percent favor testing for "certain grades" before students are allowed to move on to the next grade. And 85 percent favor a final test before allowing students to graduate.

The study also found that a narrow majority of those polled said they favored increasing salaries for those who teach in "challenging school environments." A large plurality of those polled (45 percent) said they favor paying teachers based on the progress of their students' performance. Forty-eight percent said they favored allowing principals to hire teachers who are college graduates but do not have teaching credentials.

When polled on their opinions of public schools, respondents gave fairly high marks to schools in their own areas but low marks to public schools in general. The study reported that "43 percent give the schools in their own community an A or a B; 38 percent give them a C; and 18 percent give a D or F. When asked about public schools around the nation, these grades drop. Just 22 percent give public schools in general an A or B; 55 percent a C; and 24 percent a D or F."

That said, however, 51 percent of those polled said that funding for public schools should be increased; 38 percent said it should remain the same; and 10 percent said it should be decreased. Fifty-one percent of respondents said they felt at least "somewhat confident" that increasing spending on schools would improve student performance.

When asked whether education funds should be used to increase teacher salaries or decrease class sizes, 77 percent said they favored decreasing class sizes.

The survey was conducted on behalf of Education Next and the Program on Education Policy and Governance by polling firm Knowledge Networks. The poll involved 2,000 adults in the United States. More information on the survey and results can be found at the link below.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

Executive Producer David Nagel heads up the editorial department for 1105 Media's education publications — which include two daily sites, a variety of newsletters and two monthly digital magazines covering technology in both K-12 and higher education.

A 21-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192 or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education). A selection of David Nagel's articles can be found on this site.


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