Test scores play only a small role in determining where parents choose to send their children to school, according to a new survey of 1,000 parents commissioned by the National Coalition for Public School Options (PSO).
Parents instead value school safety, teacher quality, and a generally positive learning environment, which were all considered “important” by more than 90% of surveyed parents.
Standardized testing – in stark contrast – was considered important by only 55% of parents, ranking it beneath:
- Quality of teachers (93%)
- A safe learning environment (92%)
- Positive learning environment (92%)
- Free from bullying and assaults (89%)
- Location/proximity of school (70%)
Despite these findings – which clearly show that parents value many other criteria ahead of standardized test scores – policymakers continue to value test scores higher than other factors when ranking, judging, and even closing schools.
“There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all education, but policymakers continue to try and fit all schools – public, public charters, and other – into one-size-fits-all accountability frameworks. Parents take into account a myriad of factors when deciding where to send their children to school and policymakers should too,” PSO Board President Colleen Cook said.
One factor that was important for all parents was school safety – both in terms of providing a safe learning environment, but also in keeping students safe from bullying.
A full 92% of parents said a school with a safe learning environment was important, with 73% saying it was extremely important. 89% of respondents said a school free from bullying and assault was important, with 61% saying it is “extremely important.” Often public charter schools offer the safest alternative for families.
“My child currently attends a charter school and it has made a world of difference … More activities and less bullying,” said one parent and poll respondent from Utah.
“There is more freedom for children to learn in the public charter my children attend,” said another parent and poll respondent, this time from California. “They are happy and not exposed to bullying and violence.”
“Survey after survey shows that parents value school choice,” Cook said. “Whether its school safety or a unique learning environment, school choice provides a needed lifeline for millions of families across the United States. Policymakers of all parties should be supporting and expanding school choice if they truly value families and students.”
The survey sampled 1000 public and charter school parents nationwide and has a margin of error of +/- 3.10%.