Education Opinion

A Tale of Two Education Policy Polls

By Justin Reich — August 25, 2015 5 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

In a networked-world sort of way, I co-wrote this post with J. Gordon Wright at Education Post. Two different educational policy polls came out this week, and I posted a bunch of tweets about the funny and fascinating differences in findings and interpretation about very similar issues. Wright took my tweets, added some context and analysis, and posted over at Education Post. With permission, I’m re-posting here.

It’s edu-poll season, everyone.

Peter Cunningham already summed up the most pertinent conclusion from these competing polls: It’s all how you ask the question.

On the flip side, as Harvard professor Paul Peterson revealed to NPR, “The first thing you learn is that there is no right way to ask a question.” [BJFR: Two other posts comparing the polls come from Paul Peterson and Marty West from Education Next and Morgan Polikoff on his blog.]

By far my favorite recap of the recent poll bonanza, though, comes from #EdTech guru Justin Reich. In typical techie fashion, he took to Twitter to make essentially the same point, but in an epic series of 20 tweets. (Hat-tip to @Ed_Realist.)

Reich starts by setting the scene:

First he looks at annual standardized testing: Do we love it or hate it?

Hmm, so it’s a draw on the tests. Well, then how do we feel about parents opting their kids out of those tests?

Aha! So apparently it’s okay to opt out of standardized tests, as long as they aren’t math and reading tests. (Good thing those are the only ones required by the federal government.)

But this is the easy stuff. Let’s get into a dicey issue like merit pay for teachers:

Fair enough. When I think back to the bubble-tests of my youth, I understand why people wouldn’t think that was a useful metric for gauging teacher performance. Fortunately, standardized tests are getting much, much better.

But let’s stop beating around the bush. What’s the scoop on Common Core?

Um, I was frankly surprised that these results on Common Core came out so differently.

But as Cunningham points out, apparently PDK’s use of the word “guide” implies some sort of nefarious meddling in the teacher’s classroom autonomy. If so, then respondents may intuitively understand the true intent of the standards--to provide a meaningful benchmark while still empowering school leaders and classroom instructors to choose what’s right for the kids in their community.

But let’s not get too upbeat, a bit of cynicism is appropriate here:

Here’s a great takeaway:

Here’s the CYA:

Some more smart takeaways:

And then a great finale:

For regular updates, follow me on Twitter at @bjfr and for my publications, C.V., and online portfolio, visit EdTechResearcher.

The opinions expressed in EdTech Researcher are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Teaching Webinar
6 Key Trends in Teaching and Learning
As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and a return to the classroom for many—we come better prepared, but questions remain. How will the last year impact teaching and learning this school
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Evaluating Equity to Drive District-Wide Action this School Year
Educational leaders are charged with ensuring all students receive equitable access to a high-quality education. Yet equity is more than an action. It is a lens through which we continuously review instructional practices and student
Content provided by BetterLesson
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Attendance Awareness Month: The Research Behind Effective Interventions
More than a year has passed since American schools were abruptly closed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Many children have been out of regular school for most, or even all, of that time. Some
Content provided by AllHere

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Schools Get the Brunt of Latest COVID Wave in South Carolina
In the past few weeks, South Carolina has set records for COVID-19 hospitalizations and new cases have approached peak levels of last winter.
4 min read
Two Camden Elementary School students in masks listen as South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster talks about steps the school is taking to fight COVID-19, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Camden, S.C. McMaster has adamantly and repeatedly come out against requiring masks in schools even as the average number of daily COVID-19 cases in the state has risen since early June. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)
Education More States Are Requiring Schools to Teach Native American History and Culture
Advocates say their efforts have gained some momentum with the nation’s reckoning over racial injustice since the killing of George Floyd.
3 min read
A dancer participates in an intertribal dance at Schemitzun on the Mashantucket Pequot Reservation in Mashantucket, Conn., Saturday, Aug. 28, 2021. Connecticut and a handful of other states have recently decided to mandate students be taught about Native American culture and history. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
Education Judge's Temporary Order Allows Iowa Schools to Mandate Masks
A federal judge ordered the state to immediately halt enforcement of a law that prevents school boards from ordering masks to be worn.
4 min read
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks to reporters following a news conference, Thursday, Aug. 19, 2021, in West Des Moines, Iowa. Reynolds lashed out at President Joe Biden Thursday after he ordered his education secretary to explore possible legal action against states that have blocked school mask mandates and other public health measures meant to protect students against COVID-19. Reynolds, a Republican, has signed a bill into law that prohibits school officials from requiring masks, raising concerns as delta variant virus cases climb across the state and schools resume classes soon. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Education Hurricane Ida Deals New Blow to Louisiana Schools Struggling to Reopen
The opening of the school year offered teachers a chance to fully assess the pandemic's effects, only to have students forced out again.
8 min read
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021. Louisiana students, who were back in class after a year and a half of COVID-19 disruptions kept many of them at home, are now missing school again after Hurricane Ida. A quarter-million public school students statewide have no school to report to, though top educators are promising a return is, at most, weeks away, not months.
Six-year-old Mary-Louise Lacobon sits on a fallen tree beside the remnants of her family's home destroyed by Hurricane Ida, in Dulac, La., on Sept. 4, 2021.
John Locher/AP