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Neag School Releases Statewide Education Poll
(Released: October 28, 2002)

By Janice Palmer, Office of University Communications

STORRS, Conn. -- Most Connecticut residents think their schools are doing a good job. That finding, in a poll commissioned by the Neag School of Education's New England Center for Educational Policy and Leadership at the University of Connecticut, goes against a national trend.

Poll Questions & Results

"This poll is telling us something important," says Richard Schwab, dean of the school. "While deficiencies within public schools are often the subject of headlines, Connecticut's citizens perceive that their schools are improving. When we asked them to grade their schools, 59% said they would give them an "A" or "B", yet in comparative national study, only 47% gave their community schools those same grades."

The poll, conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at UConn, found that the top issue in the governor's race was "improving public education." Another 16 questions on that poll related directly to education issues and were posed to all respondents, not just registered or likely voters.

Overall, a majority of respondents think their local schools are doing a good to excellent job (61%) in providing a good education, 65% say statewide achievement testing has helped improve the quality of Connecticut's public schools and student learning. A slightly larger group (66%) thinks the funding for public schools is not enough, and 53% would be willing to pay higher taxes to increase school funding.

When given a list of choices including school violence to poor teacher quality, the respondents identified the lack of parent involvement as the biggest problem (46%), followed closely by overcrowded classrooms (45%). School violence was next on the list at 31% and unsafe or unhealthy school buildings at 24%.

When considering education improvements, the top two strategies for improving student achievement supported by the respondents included reducing class size (80%) and providing special training for teachers beyond their college degrees (55%). Tax credits or vouchers were favored by 51% of the respondents.

As more school districts are turning to pay-to-play fees as an option for covering the expenses of sports and other extra curricular activities, a majority of those polled (58%) oppose such fees.

"This poll provides some excellent guidance on public policy for our schools and its leadership. If we are truly sincere about the continued improvement of teaching and learning, these issues need to be addressed," says John MacDonald, director of the policy center and a professor-in-residence at the Neag school's Department of Educational Leadership.

Poll Questions & Results

The poll was administered by telephone from Oct. 16-20 with a scientific sample of 726 Connecticut residents. Sampling for the statewide residents is +/-3.5% at the 95% level of confidence.



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