Public Opinion Poll

In February 2011, a 10-minute telephone survey was conducted with 500 randomly selected head-of-household, registered voters from across the state on a variety of topics related to public education and its funding. The survey was conducted by Paton Insight, Inc., Stilwell, Ks, and co-funded by KASB, KSSA and USA-Kansas.

Kansans give public schools across the state positive grades for their performance, and are even more enthusiastic with their support for their own local school districts. A total of 82% of survey respondents gave their local public school district a grade of “A” or “B,” and a total of 70% gave public schools statewide an “A” or “B.”

Technology and Access - A total of 95% said they either “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement, “Keeping school buildings and classroom technology up-to-date is important,” while 94% said they “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement, “Generally speaking, all students should have access to equal educational opportunities, no matter where they live in Kansas.”

Seven additional statements received support from 81% to 89% (combined “strongly favor/favor”) of Kansans, including the following:
  • Local Control - Decisions about what’s best for local school districts should be made by local school boards, rather than at the state level. (89%)
  • Invest in Education - Public education is worth the investment of tax dollars. (89%)
  • Activities Count - Extracurricular activities, such as sports, band and debate are an important part of an overall education. (85%)
  • Funding is a Priority - Protecting funding for public education should be one of the highest priorities when decisions are made by the state government. (83%)
The survey indicates high marks – and a high degree of interest - for public schools in Kansas, but also mentions areas that need improvement, such as helping students develop skills in teamwork, problem solving and communication.

Opinions on the remaining statements ranged from a high of 79% (on each of three statements) down to a low of 26% (on a statement suggesting the possibility of a longer school year). These results continue the theme of high expectations, and showcase some clear areas where patrons would like to see changes at the local level.
  • Students who graduate from Kansas public schools are prepared to be good citizens. (79%)
  • School districts in Kansas are safe places for students and staff. (79%)
  • School districts in Kansas have high expectations for their students. (79%)
  • Students who graduate from Kansas public schools are ready for the next phase in their lives – whether that’s college, vocational training or getting a job. (76%)
  • There seems to be too much time spent on standardized testing of students. (63%)
The fact that almost two out of three respondents find fault with the amount of standardized testing that is expected fits in with sentiments expressed on three of the four remaining statements:
  • Students who graduate from Kansas public schools are prepared for basic life skills, such as managing their own money. (48%)
  • Enough time is spent in school these days on developing skills, such as working in teams, problem-solving and communications. (41%)
  • Enough time is spent in school these days on the basics, like English, science, social studies and math. (37%)
Length of the School Year - The final statement was met with very little support, as only 26% of survey participants said they would “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement, “The length of the school year in Kansas should be longer, to give students more time in the classroom.”

For public schools in Kansas to be a success going forward, they need to…” 

The final question of the survey asked respondents to complete the following sentence: For public schools in Kansas to be a success going forward, they need to…” All 500 responses were analyzed and, where possible, coded, based on common words, phrases and ideas to see which concepts surfaced more frequently than others. The result was a mixture of more of the tinkering with curriculum seen earlier, and more global ideas on the subject of funding.

The most frequent answers were:
  • 114 respondents said “hire (or retain) high-quality teachers” (or words to that effect)
  • 74 suggested that schools should “emphasize the basics,” with some individuals naming the specific subjects they would like to see emphasized
  • 57 said that schools would need to “have adequate funding”
  • 46 said to “get support (or involvement) from the parents”
  • An additional 71 individuals provided answers that didn’t fit neatly into a category and are listed verbatim in the full report.
2011 State-wide Survey

Executive Summary
Statewide Public Education Survey of Registered Voters in Kansas Survey created and results analyzed by: Patron Insight, Inc., Stilwell, Kansas.
Co-funded by: Kansas Association of School Boards, Kansas School Superintendents’ Association, United School Administrators of Kansas

Download a pdf copy of the complete report.

In February 2011, 500 head-of-household, registered voters from across the state of Kansas participated in a 10-minute telephone study seeking their thoughts on the performance of their school district, the performance of school districts across Kansas in general, and key issues related to the ongoing funding and support of public education in the state. The full report details an extensive analysis of the findings for the entire survey group, and for key groups of participants divided by where they live, whether or not they have current public school students in the household, age, and racial/ethnic group.

This Executive Summary touches on the key findings:
1.  Kansans give public schools across the state positive grades for their performance, and they are even more enthusiastic with their support for their own local school districts.
2.  A total of 82% of research participants gave their local school district a “grade” of either “A” or “B,” and 70% did the same thing for the state’s public schools in general.
3.  More than nine out of 10 Kansans agree that up-to-date school buildings and student technology are important, and that students should have access to equal educational opportunities – no matter where they live in the state.
4.  When asked for their level of agreement or disagreement with a series of statements about the educational system and its funding, 95% said they would either “strongly agree” or “agree” with the statement, “Keeping school buildings and classroom technology up-to-date is important,” while 94% said the same thing about the statement “Generally speaking, all students should have access to equal educational opportunities, no matter where they live in Kansas.”
5.  More than eight out of 10 Kansans agree with the importance of adequately funding public education, with the view that all students have the capability to learn, and with the statement that decisions for local school districts are best left to local school boards, among other topics.

The next tier of responses featured seven statements that generated “strongly agree” or “agree” responses from more than eight out of 10 participants. Specifically:
6.  Decisions about what’s best for local school districts should be made by local school boards, rather than at the state level. (89%)
7.  Public education is worth the investment of tax dollars. (89%)
8.  All students have the ability to learn, and it’s up to school districts to determine how to help each one learn and be successful in school. (88%)
9.  Generally speaking, all students should have access to equal educational opportunities, no matter what their strengths and weaknesses in the classroom may be. (88%)
10.  Extracurricular activities, such as sports, band and debate, are an important part of an overall education. (85%)
11.  Protecting funding for public education should be one of the highest priorities when decisions are made by the state government. (83%)
12.  Teaching students technical and vocational skills in the upper grades should be as much of a priority as other subjects. (81%)

Opinions on the remaining statements ranged from a high of 79% (on each of three statements) down to a low of 26% (on a statement suggesting the possibility of a longer school year). These results continue the theme of high expectations, and showcase some clear areas where patrons would like to see changes at the local level.  The final nine statements fell quite clearly into two groups. Among those in the first group:
13.  Students who graduate from Kansas public schools are prepared to be good citizens. (79%)
14.  Students who graduate from Kansas public schools are ready for the next phase in their lives – whether that’s college, vocational training or getting a job. (76%
15.  There seems to be too much time spent on standardized testing of students. (63%)

The lower rated areas were primarily related to curriculum adjustments – along with the lack of interest in a longer school year.
16.  Students who graduate from Kansas public schools are prepared for basic life skills, such as managing their own money. (48%)
17.  Enough time is spent in school these days on developing skills, such as working in teams, problem-solving and communications. (41%)
18.  Enough time is spent in school these days on the basics, like English, science, social studies and math. (37%)
19.  The length of the school year in Kansas should be longer, to give students more time in the classroom. (26%)

The full report provides more extensive commentary on each finding, along with all the questions, answers and pertinent cross-tabulations. A brief Summary closes the report.
Methodology - 2011 State-wide Survey

The completed calls were divided into eight different regions, with quantities for each region representing the general percentage of the state’s population that resides in that area. Doing so results in research results with a Margin of Error of +/- 4.9%, meaning that the overall findings are within approximately 5% of what they would be if every head-of-household, registered voter in the state took part in the survey.

Region 


Number of
respondents    

Percentage of
respondents
 

 Kansas City area 

142 

28% 

 Wichita area 

105

21% 

 Southeast 

61 

12% 

 Southwest 

61

 12% 

 Topeka/Lawrence area
 
52

10%

 Salina, Manhattan, 
Junction City area 

32


6%

  
 Northwest 

24

5%

Other Northeast
(besides Kansas City
area)

23



5%