Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Superintendents: Federal Failure

Gallup does an occasional survey of school superintendents, and the results from the November 2015 survey are interesting. They used a list of 11,750 superintendents, and weighted the responses from the 1,255 who actually got back to them to correct for for region and setting of schools. You can read the whole report (it's brief, with lots of tables) right here, but let me touch on some highlights for you.

Superintendents are pretty sure that parents just don't understand.

On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being total agreement and 1 being complete notional rejection, superintendents mostly rejected the statement "Parents in my school district understand how our school is evaluated by our state's school accountability system." Only 16% of superintendents gave a 4 or 5 for that one, with 52% opting for 1 or 2. 71% said that parents need more information.

Likewise, on 32% gave parents a 4 or 5 for understanding the academic model and curriculum of the district.

Test Prep Tyranny

Two thirds of the superintendents said that their schools are spending more classroom time getting ready for the Big Standardized Tests. The top reason offered was that the test have changed (64%) followed closely by an increase in the number of tests (61%) and low BS Test results in the district (60%). Increased emphasis on test results by the state was still more than half (57%).


Is the ability to compare results a big deal? Bigger than I might have guessed

Course offerings

I'm happy to see that 79% of superintendents still offer career and technical education, though I think 100% would be a better number to shoot for, but 57% of the supers said they have plans to expand. . 62% offer SAT or ACT prep, which is discouraging (do schools really need to become part of a corporate marketing strategy?) Entrepreneurship is in 45% of the responding districts.

Feds Take the Heat

But nothing brought out the superunanimity like the feds. In response to "How would you rate the job the federal government has done with K-12 education policy in the last five years?" only 1% said "excellent," followed by a piddly 9% for "good." They did not use any kind of follow-up to indicate what exact area of policy suckage they were bothered by. But Acting Pretend Secretary of Education John "Stay the Course" King might want to consider this result while he's contemplating operating as Duncan 2.0 in the USED office.


  1. Totally off-topic and pretty out of the blue, but I wanted to thank you for your blog roll down the right side. I've had more than average down time lately so I've scrolled through quite a few of the blogs and found a number of new favorite blogs (yours and Diane's still being my first faves, though).

  2. The next logical question is: If 71% said that parents need more information about standards and curriculum, then what are these Superintendents planning to do about that with their parents?

  3. Happy New Year from a trombone player in San Diego. It must be difficult for superintendents who have reached a fairly lofty position to mainly enact state and federal mandates.