New poll: MPLS parents are vocal on school quality

What does a “high-quality” school mean for the parents of Minneapolis kids (and the general public, for that matter)? That’s exactly what we unpacked in our recent poll. Here’s what we learned, working in partnership with the local research group Morris Leatherman…

In response to an open-ended question, “When you hear someone say a school is ‘high quality,’ what do you think that means?,” parents responded with these most-popular conditions:

  1. High achievement statistics: 36%
  2. Effective teachers: 20%
  3. Meets the needs of all students: 6%
  4. Broad curriculum: 6%

Respondents then received prompt characteristics that a “high-quality” school could possess. Parents cited the following most-popular answers as “absolutely necessary” or “highly essential” (versus “nice to have” or “totally unnecessary”):

  1. Curriculum/programs meet student needs: 96%
  2. Students attracted to, excited by curriculum: 95%
  3. Students master core content: 95%
  4. Learn in addition to core content: 90%

What’s more, parents – especially those between the ages of 18-34 – favor the “establishment of an independent summary rating of the quality of education to provide greater comparative information about schools in Minneapolis.” When asked “Why?,” parents’ main reasons: “to give parents more information to make decisions,” “the importance of rating individual schools,” and “good to have an independent source.”

And 73% of parents believe schools should be required to post their rating on their websites.

When respondents were asked “What are the most important factors that should be included in calculating the rating?,” 35% said “achievement statistics.” All other responses to this open-ended question – discipline, scope of curriculum, attendance rates… – were below 10%.

Many different things can be considered in rating a school as “high quality.” So respondents, again, received a list of prompt possible indicators. The most-popular answers:

  1. Percent of students showing yearly learning progress: 97%
  2. Percent of students entering the next grade/graduating: 95%
  3. Daily attendance: 92%
  4. Percent of students going to post-secondary options: 87%

Here’s why this matters

This poll is a reflection of where we are in relation to where we ought to be. We encourage you to reference these findings when engaging in conversations with advocates, policymakers and neighbors alike.

Transforming our city’s K-12 education scene is no doubt complex but possible, together. If we continue to learn, assess and act in concert with the insight of families, we’ll unleash bright spots that counter the effects of inequity and transform our city’s schools into something that works for all students.

About our public opinion poll

The above findings are based upon the results of a survey administered to 400 randomly selected adult residents and 250 parents of children in the City of Minneapolis. Professional interviewers conducted the survey by telephone between Aug. 28 and Sept. 14, 2018. The typical respondent took 26 minutes to complete the questionnaire. The overall non-response rate is 3.5%. The overall resident results of the study are projectable to all adult City of Minneapolis residents within ± 5.0% in 95 out of 100 cases. Similarly, the parent sample results are projectable to all parents of children within ± 6.3% in 95 out of 100 cases.

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