Gauging the Latest Public Opinion, Reform Policies and Results in K-12 Education

There a couple new education-related publications out there that shed some light on current debates. When it comes to K-12 education, public opinion, policies and results are interconnected, though the relationship often is not so apparent. If we want to help improve and maximize student learning, it’s good to be informed on all fronts.

First, Education Next recently released the results of its 2010 annual survey. The bottom line?

With the exceptions of school spending and teacher tenure, the divisions between ordinary Democrats and Republicans on education policy matters are quite minor. To be sure, disagreements among Americans continue to linger. Indeed, with the exception of student and school accountability measures, Americans as a whole do not stand steadfastly behind any single reform proposal. Yet the most salient divisions appear to be within, not between, the political parties. And we find growing support for several strategies put forward in recent years by leaders of both political parties—most notably online education and merit pay.

In particular, Education Next‘s Paul Peterson and Marty West talk about the growing support for charter schools — most notably among minority groups and parents who live in neighborhoods where charter schools operate.

Second, this morning the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) released its latest version of the Report Card on American Education. Matthew Ladner, Andrew LeFevre and Dan Lips analyze and rate each state on two basic frameworks:

  1. Measured performance and academic growth among the state’s low-income students; and
  2. The quality of the state’s education policies in the areas of choice, accountability and educator effectiveness

Interestingly, Colorado ranks 17th in the former category and second nationally in the latter category. (Which is the only state leading Colorado? You guessed it: Florida.)

As we move forward, I hope both sets of data help to inform Colorado’s education reform strategies and efforts.