This is a link to the Top Line results of the Dakota Poll on Education
This is a link to the Top Line results of the Dakota Poll on Education
This is a link to the cross tabs for the 2011 Education Poll
The South Dakota public school year begins this week, and a new DakotaPoll.com survey paints a picture of broad parental satisfaction with the public schools in South Dakota. The results are consistent with Gallup polling which has consistently shown a gap between high levels of parental satisfaction and low levels of public satisfaction. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/122432/parents-rate-schools-higher-americans-overall.aspx).
Between August 7-9, 2011, the Dakota Poll surveyed 400 registered voters who are parents and grandparents of students in South Dakota public schools, to determine their attitudes towards the quality of education their children are receiving. The margin of error was 4.9%. The Dakota Poll was conducted by RBI Strategies and Research of Denver, Colorado.
All primary documents regarding methodology, survey questions, and cross-tabs are available at dakotapoll.com
The fundamental premise of the poll is that parents and active grandparents of public school children form a narrow slice of South Dakota voters who have reason to pay the closest attention to the day-to-day operation of South Dakota schools, and have the most self-interest in the quality of education their children receive. The suggestion is that parents and grandparents with primary interests in children would be the quickest to identify problems and support essential reforms.
The high levels of satisfaction reflected by respondents to the Dakota Poll may help explain why communities resist proposals for increased funding to secondary public education or broader school reforms.
Results of the survey show that parents/grandparents are overwhelmingly satisfied with the job that the state’s public schools are doing.
–85% of respondents said they are either “completely satisfied” (29%) or “somewhat satisfied” (56%) with “the quality of education students receive in kindergarten through grade 12 in South Dakota.” (Q-8)
When the question is put in a personal form, and respondents were asked about the quality of education in their own children’s schools, the percentage stayed the same.
–85% of respondents are satisfied. (32% “completely satisfied”, 53% “somewhat satisfied”)(Q-9)
When asked to rate their level of satisfaction with the way local schools were handling a variety of eight different tasks (Questions 10-17), including, “Making the community feel like a welcome part of the school system”, to “Encouraging students to get further education after high school” to “Preparing students for life and work as adults”, respondents reported very high levels of satisfaction across the board.
–The lowest level of satisfaction was 67% in response to the task of “Preparing students to succeed in a competitive global economy”. (Q-17)
–The highest level of satisfaction was 84% in response to the question “Making the community feel like a welcome part of the school system.” (Q-10)
Respondents showed a moderate concern that too little emphasis is placed on foreign language, art and music, and health, (Questions 20, 22, 23) but;
–73% believes that the right amount of emphasis is being placed on “Reading and English” (Q-28)
–66% believes the right amount of emphasis is being placed on “Sciences” (Q-24)
–69% believes the right amount of emphasis is being placed on “Math” (Q-25)
–67% believes the right amount of emphasis is being placed on “History” (Q-26)
Parents and grandparents have a very positive impression of the work of public school teachers.
–48% responded that 70% or more of the teachers in their children’s schools were doing an excellent and truly outstanding job. (Question 29)
A majority of respondents (54%) do not believe that “raising teacher pay would improve the quality of education in your local schools”. 44% believe that raising teacher pay would improve the quality of education. (Q-31)
The Dakota Poll asked a battery of questions about parental relationship with schools. The results show a substantial gap between how parents look at their own behavior compared to the behavior of other parents.
When asked to rate how well “families in your school are doing…” on a series of 7 tasks (Questions 33-39), respondents answered that only 33% are doing a good job of “Disciplining their children”. (Q-39)
–35% of families are doing a good job of “Stepping in or seeking help when there are drug or alcohol related problems” (Q-38)
–38% of families are doing a good job of “Making sure the children get a good night’s rest before school. (Q-37)
However, when asked to evaluate their own performance on the same tasks, 83% told the Poll they were doing a “Good job” of “Disciplining your children” (Q-43)
–75% responded that they were personally doing a “Good job” of “Stepping in or seeking help when there are drug or alcohol related problems” (Q-45)
–76% responded that they were personally doing a “Good job” of “Making sure the children get a goodnight’s rest before school. (Q-44)
The Dakota Poll asked a series of questions about the relationship of teachers-students-parents on problems of “discipline”. (Questions 47-52)
–52% of parents/grandparents said that their children had been disciplined by their school. (Q-48)
–91% responded that their children were treated fairly by the school. (Q-49) However, once again a gap appears in the way parents/grandparents perceive their own behavior compared to that of other parents.
Respondents were asked the following: “If your child came home with a note from his teacher describing an incident in which the child was disciplined for in-class behavior and if your child disagreed with the teacher’s description of the incident, would your FIRST instinct be to believe the teacher or your child.” (Q-47)
–58% of respondents told the Dakota Poll that their first instinct would be to believe the teacher. (Q-47)
–25% responded that their first instinct would be to believe the child. (Q-47)
However, parents/grandparents were also asked to respond to the following question: “Some teachers say that when they attempt to discipline a student who is causing problems, the parents will either attack the rules or defend the student instead of siding with the teacher to solve the problem. Overall, what has been the experience in your local schools—are parents more like to defend their child or more likely to side with the teacher?
A substantial majority of respondents–60%–told the Poll that other parents would be inclined to “defend the child” rather than “Side with the teacher”. (Q-50)
Results suggest that there is a significant gap between how parents/grandparents perceive their own behavior and how they perceive the behavior of other parents/grandparents.
By large majorities, parents/grandparents describe themselves as playing an active role in their local schools and in the school life of their children.
–43% said they have attended a school board meeting in the last five years (Q-53)
–86% said they regularly attend parent-teacher nights at school (Q-54)
–66% said they have volunteered in the classroom in the last five years (Q-55)
–71% said they talk to their children/grandchildren about what they are doing in school on a daily basis. (Q-58)
Cross-tab analysis of the poll indicates that a high regard for the quality of public education extends evenly across age, income, level of education, and residential location.
For details on July 2011 national Gallup polling on public “confidence” in schools, see: (http://www.gallup.com/poll/148724/near-record-low-confidence-public-schools.aspx)