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Alliance for Excellent Education Releases National Public Opinion Poll on American High Schools

Press Release:

Alliance for Excellent Education Releases National Public Opinion Poll on American High Schools

Americans on High Schools: “In Need of Improvement!” is the first comprehensive survey on public opinion on high schools since President Bush and many governors announced major initiatives earlier this year to improve the educational experience of and outcomes for America’s older students.

Significant findings include:

  • for the first time, the American public says that high schools should be the highest priority for educational improvement, even over elementary schools (83 percent)
  • few Americans believe high school education has improved over the past 5 years; 39 percent say it has stayed the same and 32 percent say it has declined.
  • 75 percent believe Congress and the President should be devoting more attention to high schools.
  • with 70 percent of 8th graders not able to read at grade level, 87 percent say that improving high school students’ ability to read and comprehend is the single most important strategy for increasing the graduation rate.

Differences between African Americans, Hispanics, and white respondents:

The poll over-sampled African Americans and Hispanics as well as used Spanish speaking surveyors to determine where differences exist. Important differences included:

  • the urgency to improve high schools was considered “extreme” by 44 percent of whites, 67 percent of African Americans, and 51 percent of Hispanics.
  • African American and Hispanic respondents rate high schools nationally much higher than whites, while white respondents were more positive about local schools.
  • only 45 percent of whites believe high schools prepare for college versus 50 percent of African Americans and 58 percent of Hispanics.
  • a plurality of whites listed a high school’s value to its community as being “to create community pride and morale” while the most African Americans and Hispanics chose “lower crime rates.

Lake Snell Perry Mermin/Decision Research conducted the national poll in mid-August 2005. It asked 1,200 individuals from across the nation what they know about the state of America’s high schools, what should be done to improve schools, and who should be held responsible for the reforms needed to make all secondary schools effective centers of teaching and learning.

There are other important findings concerning: public response to specific solutions to the high school crisis, the impact of high schools, and public impressions of the effectiveness of the President and Congress and the governors on improving high schools.

What nationally distinguished education experts are saying about the poll:

Janet Murguia, President, National Council on La Raza: “The Alliance for Excellent Education poll confirms what we know about the Latino community: that education is its highest priority; that it recognizes that our high schools need a significant overhaul but its faith in the public school system is strong; and finally, that members of the community are more than willing to commit to improving education through their hard-earned dollars.”

Dr. John Jackson, National Director of Education for the NAACP: “On the one hand, the American public recognizes that there are challenges. On the other hand, this survey seems to indicate that we still have work to do in moving education up on the priority list, so that, at the federal level, we can still get the necessary reforms to correct the disparities that exist.”

More information about Americans on High Schools: “In Need of Improvement!, is available at https://all4ed.org/events/HS_improvement.

For a briefing by Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, or any additional information, please contact Sarah Holt at (202) 828-0828 or email at sholt@all4ed.org.

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The Alliance for Excellent Education is a Washington-based policy, research, and advocacy organization that works to make every child a graduate, prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.

For more information about the Alliance for Excellent Education, please visit: www.all4ed.org.

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