Fine Print: Common Core, PARCC Not Well-Known — But They’re Still Unpopular

John Mooney | February 11, 2015 | Education
Monmouth poll finds few people are even aware of the new academic standards and testing – but negatives are high among those in the know

What it is: The Monmouth University Poll yesterday released the results of its latest survey of New Jersey residents’ opinions of the new Common Core standards and related testing being instituted in the state’s public schools.

The results were mixed, with only one-third of respondents even aware of the new tests, called PARCC (Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers), which begin statewide next month.

But the more people knew, the less they liked PARCC, with two-thirds of those well-familiar with the testing issue saying they had a negative view.

Reviews of the Common Core standards weren’t much better.

What it means: The new poll comes as the state is reaching a boiling point in the debate over the new testing – and at an especially critical time, as an Assembly committee holds a hearing today on bills that would set policies for families seeking to have their children sit out the tests altogether.

One big difference: Other some other polls results reported by advocacy groups – most notably, the state’s predominant teachers union — the Monmouth Poll found that most New Jersey residents support holding schools more accountable and think more effective measures are needed.

Poll director’s analysis of results: “New Jerseyans like their public schools, but they still want more accountability,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute. “They are not quite convinced, though, that standardized tests provide an accurate picture of educational outcomes.”

Support for local schools: For the last five years, the Monmouth Poll has been asking New Jersey residents about their view of local schools. Support has been consistent throughout.

The latest poll found 61 percent rated the local schools good or excellent, not far off the 64 percent in late 2010. But that number was below 50 percent in urban districts, and among those who are not public-school parents.

Accountability: Still, even among supporters of New Jersey’s public schools, 53 percent said better measures are needed to gauge the local schools, That sentiment was found among the majority of public-school parents – and was strongest in the urban districts.

Doubts about testing: About 60 percent of those polled said rating tests as fair to poor job way to measure student progress and achievement. More than 60 percent felt the same way about how effectively testing measures teacher quality.

Less than 10 percent said they thought testing is an excellent way to gauge students and teachers.

But unlike the union polling, reaction to the question of enough or too much testing was more mixed: 40 percent said there’s too much testing, but 33 percent said it was the right amount and 17 percent said there’s not enough testing.

The fine print: The poll of 805 adults was conducted from January 30 through February 2. The polling has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.