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AP-NORC Poll: Parents back high-stakes testing

  • FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo, Burgess-Peterson Elementary School principal Robin Robbins, center, meets with students during an after-school study program in Atlanta, in preparation for state standardized testing, soon to begin. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

    FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo, Burgess-Peterson Elementary School principal Robin Robbins, center, meets with students during an after-school study program in Atlanta, in preparation for state standardized testing, soon to begin. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

  • FILE - In this May 1, 2013, file photo signs are posted on a closed classroom door, indicating that testing is going on inside, at an elementary school in Mishawaka, Ind. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)

    FILE - In this May 1, 2013, file photo signs are posted on a closed classroom door, indicating that testing is going on inside, at an elementary school in Mishawaka, Ind. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2013, file photo New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, talks about standardized test scores during a news conference in New York. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2013, file photo New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, talks about standardized test scores during a news conference in New York. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

  • FILE - In this April 18, 2013, file photo, Burgess-Peterson Elementary School principal Robin Robbins, center, meets with students during an after-school study program in Atlanta, in preparation for state standardized testing, soon to begin. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  • FILE - In this May 1, 2013, file photo signs are posted on a closed classroom door, indicating that testing is going on inside, at an elementary school in Mishawaka, Ind. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond, File)
  • FILE - In this Aug. 7, 2013, file photo New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, talks about standardized test scores during a news conference in New York. A new poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research finds parents of school-age children view standardized tests as a useful way to track student progress and school quality. Most parents say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the AP-NORC poll. And almost three quarters say they favor changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Often criticized as too prescriptive and all-consuming, standardized tests have support among parents, who view them as a useful way to measure both students’ and schools’ performances, according to an Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll.

Most parents also say their own children are given about the right number of standardized tests, according to the poll.

They’d like to see student performance on statewide exams used in evaluating teachers, and almost three-quarters said they favored changes that would make it easier for schools to fire poorly performing teachers.

“The tests are good because they show us where students are at, if they need help with anything,” said Vicky Nevarez, whose son Jesse just graduated from high school in Murrieta, Calif. “His teachers were great, and if there were problems, the tests let me know.”

The polling results are good news for states looking to implement increased accountability standards and for those who want to hold teachers responsible for students’ slipping standing against other countries’ scores. Teachers unions have objected to linking educators’ evaluations to student performance.

As students prepare to return to classrooms, the AP-NORC Center surveyed parents of students at all grade levels and found:

∎ Sixty-one percent of parents think their children take an appropriate number of standardized tests and 26 percent think their children take too many tests.

∎ Teachers’ fates shouldn’t rest solely on test results, according to a majority of parents. Fifty-six percent said classroom observations should be part of teachers’ evaluations, and 74 percent of all parents said they wanted districts to help struggling teachers.

∎ Despite many Republicans’ unrelenting criticism of the Common Core State Standards, in various stages of implementation in 45 states and the District of Columbia, 52 percent of parents have heard little or nothing about the academic benchmarks and a third are unsure if they live in a state using them. Still, when given a brief description of what the standards do, about half of parents say educational quality will improve once the standards are implemented, 11 percent think it will get worse and 27 percent say they’ll have no effect.

∎ Seventy-five percent of parents say standardized tests are a solid measure of their children’s abilities, and 69 percent say such exams are a good measure of the schools’ quality.

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