SETTING THE STANDARD

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Standards and accountability are clearly on the agenda this year. In January, President Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act, creating mandatory standards and testing requirements for students nationwide.

Most people say they want to crack down on social promotion. In a July 1999 poll by ICR/NPR/Kaiser/Kennedy School, a whopping 94 percent of Americans favored requiring students to meet standards in order to be promoted to a higher grade level. Nonetheless, they wouldn't necessarily want their child to be impacted by the enforcement of such standards. In a March/April 2001 ABC News/Washington Post poll, 6 in 10 said they would oppose a plan to reduce federal funding to school districts where students' results on standardized tests don't improve.

While most Americans embrace the idea of setting standards, the importance of those standards is relative. A 1999 Public Agenda survey asked if the best way to improve public schools is to give them more money or to have higher standards and stricter discipline. Money matters more, according to parents (61 percent), teachers (70 percent) and college professors (55 percent).


PUT TO THE TEST

Minorities are more eager than whites to test school children regularly.

Do you favor or oppose having schools test children in grades 3 through 8 in reading and math each year?
TOTAL WHITE BLACK HISPANIC
Favor 87% 85% 90% 98%
Oppose 11% 13% 9% 2%
Do you favor or oppose making principals and teachers more accountable for how well or badly their schools do in these tests?
Favor 78% 78% 78% 76%
Oppose 18% 18% 20% 15%
Do you favor or oppose using federal government money to reward states where test results improve?
Favor 61% 60% 68% 69%
Oppose 34% 34% 32% 30%
Do you favor or oppose giving less federal government money to states where schools fail to improve?
Favor 35% 34% 34% 39%
Oppose 59% 59% 64% 57%
Source: Harris Interactive, February-March 2001
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