A nationwide Gallup poll released last week found that fewer than a third of school superintendents surveyed believe that parents in their districts have a solid understanding of their schools’ academic model and curriculum.
Just 16 percent of the superintendents think that parents understand how the state accountability system evaluates their schools, while roughly 70 percent say parents need more information to understand how states assess school performance.
The poll results show that parents aren’t the only group that superintendents think need a K-12 education primer. Respondents gave the federal government less-than-stellar marks on how it handled K-12 policy in the past five years. Eighty-nine percent rated the federal government’s job as “only fair” or “poor.”
The poll did not ask about specific concerns with federal education policy so “it is unclear if superintendents disagree with specific policy actions the Obama administration and Congress have taken, or if superintendents are expressing a more general attitude that education policy is best determined at the local level,” an accompanying report says.
In conducting the survey, Gallup queried 11,750 superintendents online in November. The roughly 1,300 superintendents who took part are nationally representative.
The district leaders also offered opinions on how to best evaluate public school systems: 83 percent ranked high school graduation rates, student engagement, and student optimism as very important factors.
When measuring effectiveness, the superintendents believe that what happens during school is more important than what happens when students go on to college, trade school, or find a job immediately after high school. Still, many respondents reported that their schools are expanding their course offerings to help students succeed after graduation, with roughly 80 percent offering foreign-language courses, opportunities for dual enrollment to earn college credit, or career and technical education.
About 60 percent say their districts offer Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses and SAT or ACT preparation.
A version of this article appeared in the January 13, 2016 edition of Education Week as Superintendents Think Parents Just Don’t Understand, Poll Finds