Between America’s long-standing national objective of improving the strength of the public school system to prepare students for college and careers and the focus of the Obama administration on education as a pathway to economic security for the middle class and improving the economy, education issues and policy have been in the spotlight. A central focus of the policy discussion is the measurement of quality and the utilization of quality data to improve student outcomes. This quality-focused policy agenda covers a range of high-profile issues, from standardized testing to teacher evaluation to early childhood education, and involves a range of stakeholders.
While regular survey research is conducted with a variety of stakeholders, including teachers, very few nationally representative surveys of parents have been conducted recently. Often cited as a key determinant of student outcomes, parents represent an important perspective that policymakers need to understand in the design, articulation, and implementation of quality-focused education initiatives. This study provides a comprehensive description of parents’ perspectives on education in America today, with a specific focus on understanding what quality education and teaching means to parents and how it should be measured and rewarded.
With funding from The Joyce Foundation, the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted a national survey of 1,025 parents or guardians of children who completed kindergarten through 12th grade in the past school year. The key findings from the study, summarized below, provide much-needed information for policymakers and school officials across the country to better understand the perspectives and opinions of one of their key constituencies—parents.