With the start of a new academic year, America’s parents would like to convey the following message to the public schools:
Pay more attention to my kid!
Based on our recent survey of Americans’ views on key issues in education, most parents—indeed, most Americans — think schools should be doing a lot more to make sure students get the most out of their school experience.
To be sure, there are plenty of schools in which that happens every day. And our survey also found that of all groups involved in public education, teachers get credit for working harder than anyone else, including parents and students.
But parents obviously have a huge stake in what goes on in the public schools, and they deserve to be heard. And one thing they’re saying is that while they’re as receptive as ever to systemic reform — smaller classes, tougher academic standards, more accountability—they don’t want their kids to get lost in or compromised by the school system.
For example, only half of the public believes that high schools are pushing the best students to make the most of their abilities. At the other end of the spectrum, 84 percent of parents of high school students say they worry that students are getting passed through school without the skills they’ll need for college or work. We’re simply losing too much talent.
As for making school relevant, lopsided majorities say they want schools to make college-level coursework more available to high school students, and for schools to place more emphasis on real-world learning through work-study, vocational training and other programs.
This concern for individual achievement extends to teachers, too. Ninety-one percent of Americans favor creating a “master teacher” ladder to reward outstanding educators who make a difference and to reward teaching as a career. One example is the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ professional certification, which many states use as an option for advanced licensing.
Given the abundance of outstanding professionals in our public schools, identifying and rewarding the most accomplished teachers would send a meaningful message to parents, students, and educators themselves.
At ETS, we’re working to make a difference, too. We’re listening to educators, parents and policymakers. We’re learning from sound research. And we’re leading the effort to achieve both informed public policy and informed educational practice.
For more information on the survey, visit us at www.ets.org/messagefromparents.html