Public Schools: Glass Half Full or Half Empty?
This year, Gallup's Confidence in Institutions survey revealed a disheartening lack of faith in U.S. public schools. The percentage of participants indicating "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in public K-12 education fell to an all-time low of around 29 percent—a drop of 29 percentage points from 1973, when Gallup first began including public schools in its survey and public confidence in schools measured 58 percent.
Unfortunately, faith in the public schools has been steadily eroding since 1973. But are things really this dismal?
We recently mapped performance on the National Assessment of Educational Progress and high school dropout rates against the backdrop of public confidence in education. As our analysis illustrates, performance data on these dimensions is improving while public confidence is declining. In fact, NAEP scores for both 4th and 8th grade have been trending upward since the 1970s. Compared with an average scale score of 219 in 1973 for 4th graders, 2008's average scale score of 243 represents significant progress in math performance. ( See charts below. )
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