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AMERICANS SPEAK: Seventh Annual Survey From ETS Finds Majority of the Public Supports NCLB Reauthorization

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“The survey clearly shows that despite a lack of knowledge among the American public and strong misgivings of teachers and administrators, there is strong support for reauthorization of No Child Left Behind,” said Kurt Landgraf

Parents, teachers, and school administrators strongly support the renewal, or reauthorization, of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), according to Standards, Accountability, and Flexibility: Americans Speak on No Child Left Behind Reauthorization, a survey released last month by ETS. While the survey finds that less than half (45 percent) of the public thinks that they know a great deal or fair amount about NCLB, it finds that only 16 percent of the public, 25 percent of teachers, and 22 percent of administrators believe Congress should not reauthorize the law. However, it adds that teachers and administrators are clear in calling for major changes in NCLB when Congress considers its renewal.

“The survey clearly shows that despite a lack of knowledge among the American public and strong misgivings of teachers and administrators, there is strong support for reauthorization of No Child Left Behind,” said Kurt Landgraf, president and CEO of ETS. “The lack of understanding among parents of school-age children and the general public initially led to slightly more negative than positive feelings toward NCLB, but once the law was explained, a majority then favored its continuation. This shows that NCLB supporters need to increase awareness among the public about the law’s provisions and benefits.”

The survey also finds that participants favor greater flexibility in assisting students and schools struggling to meet high standards and call for increased funding for schools failing to make Adequate Yearly Progress.

While this year’s study is devoted entirely to NCLB, it also sheds some light on the public’s perception that education is vital to the success of the nation. In fact, 59 percent of the public believes that America’s global competitiveness and the strength of the economy will be negatively impacted within ten years if changes are not made to the education system. It also found that the public supports national standards, with nearly 59 percent saying that they would replace NCLB’s state-based standards and testing with one set of national standards.

The survey, the seventh from ETS’ annual Americans Speak survey, was conducted by bipartisan pollsters Peter Hart and David Winston. Previous surveys in the series have tracked educational issues facing America, including a limited number of questions on the public’s impressions of NCLB since it first became law.

The complete results from the survey are available at http://www.ets.org/americansspeak.html.

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