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Few U.S. Adults Give High Marks to the Nation's Public Schools for Quality of Education.

Public schools are perceived better for physical education, diversity and social development aspects, but people feel private schools better prepare kids for college, teach academic subjects and address the needs of the gifted and talented

ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Fewer than two in 10 U.S. adults rate the quality of public education in the nation today as very good or excellent (grades K-6, 17%; grades 7-12, 14%). Adults are twice as likely to rate the quality of public education in the United States as fair or poor as they are to rate it as very good or excellent. This applies to both the elementary (39% poor/fair) and secondary school (45% poor/fair) levels. Private schools in the United States, whether religion-based or not, are the most likely to be viewed as providing a very good or excellent quality of education. Home schooling also fares better than public schools in this analysis, but charter schools are perceived as providing a similar quality of education as public schools in general.

These are the results of a nationwide Harris Poll of 2,435 U.S. adults surveyed online by Harris Interactive(R) between March 8 and 14, 2006.

Public education in "my neighborhood" is better

Adults are somewhat more likely to rate the quality of public school education in their local area more favorably than that of the nation as a whole. One-quarter of adults describe the quality of public school education in their local area as very good or excellent at the grade K-6 (26%) and grade 7-12 (23%) levels. In contrast, people's views toward the quality of education in private, non-religion based schools or of home schooling locally tend to be less favorable than their perceptions of those at the national level. Private, religion-based schools and charter schools fared equally when people considered them locally or nationally.

Views on education quality align with beliefs about which types of schooling do best in specific subject or skill areas.

Pluralities believe that private schools provide a better education than public schools or home-schooling in reading and writing (33%), science (35%), English/literature (36%), mathematics (37%), foreign language (40%), art/music (41%), preparation for college (44%), and education for gifted or talented children (49%). However, many also believe that public schools provide a better education than private schools or home-schooling in physical education (42%), social skills with peers (47%), and getting along with people from other backgrounds (59%).

Biggest regional differences in public ratings apparent for public school education

Western and Eastern states vary in their ratings of public school education. Only two in 10 adults in the West rate the quality of public education as very good or excellent in elementary (21%) or secondary (17%) schools, compared to one-third of adults in East who rate the quality of public school education as very good or excellent, K-6 (35%) and 7-12 (32%).
 "Overall, how would you rate the quality of education provided by the
 following in ... ? Excellent, very good, good, fair, poor, not sure?"
 Percent saying excellent/very good

 Base: Half of all adults (split sample)

 The United States Your Local Area
 % %
 Public schools, grades K-6 17 26
 Public schools, grades 7-12 14 23
 Private, church-related schools,
 grades K-6 35 34
 Private, church-related schools,
 grades 7-12 34 33
 Private, non-church-related
 schools, grades K-6 32 25
 Private, non-church-related
 schools, grades 7-12 31 25
 Homeschooling, grades K-6 25 18
 Homeschooling, grades 7-12 23 17
 Charter schools, grades K-6 18 16
 Charter schools, grades 7-12 18 15

"For each of the following areas, please indicate which type of schooling
 provides a better education."

 Base: All adults

 Public Private Home- No Not
 Schools Schools schooling Difference Sure

 % % % % %
 Reading and writing 13 33 16 17 21
 Mathematics 14 37 10 16 22
 Science 20 35 6 14 24
 Foreign language 18 40 5 13 25
 History 17 31 11 18 23
 English/Literature 15 36 10 16 22
 Physical education 42 15 4 17 23
 Art / Music 19 41 6 12 22
 Preparation for college 17 44 7 11 22
 Social skills with peers 47 20 4 10 19
 Education for
 special-needs children 23 26 18 8 25
 Education for gifted or
 talented children 13 49 10 7 21
 Good citizenship 23 27 12 16 22
 Preparation for
 employment 29 25 7 15 24
 Getting along with
 people from different
 backgrounds 59 12 4 9 17

 "Overall, how would you rate the quality of education provided by the
 following in ... ? Excellent, very good, good, fair, poor, not sure?"

 Base: Half of all adults (split sample)

 Excellent/Very Good (NET) Poor/Fair (NET)
 Mid- Mid-
 East west South West East west South West
 % % % % % % % %
 Public schools,
 grades K-6 35 25 25 21 26 30 30 34
 Public schools,
 grades 7-12 32 24 20 17 35 32 34 40
 Private, church-
 related schools,
 grades K-6 32 33 36 35 11 8 8 6
 Private, church-
 related schools,
 grades 7-12 33 34 33 33 11 8 8 6
 Private, non-
 grades K-6 25 23 26 27 11 6 7 7
 Private, non-
 grades 7-12 26 22 27 25 12 7 9 6
 grades K-6 16 16 20 21 8 12 12 7
 grades 7-12 17 15 17 19 9 15 14 9
 Charter schools,
 grades K-6 16 13 15 20 11 12 12 12
 Charter schools,
 grades 7-12 15 12 15 19 12 12 13 11


The Harris Poll(R) was conducted online within the United States between March 8 and 14, 2006 among 2,435 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

All surveys are subject to several sources of error. These include: sampling error (because only a sample of a population is interviewed); measurement error due to question wording and/or question order; deliberately or unintentionally inaccurate responses, nonresponse (including refusals); interviewer effects (when live interviewers are used); and weighting.

With one exception (sampling error) the magnitude of the errors that result cannot be estimated. There is, therefore, no way to calculate a finite "margin of error" for any survey and the use of these words should be avoided.

With pure probability samples, with 100 percent response rates, it is possible to calculate the probability that the sampling error (but not other sources of error) is not greater than some number. With a pure probability sample of 2,435 adults one could say with a ninety-five percent probability that the overall results have a sampling error of +/- 2 percentage points. However that does not take other sources of error into account. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

 Q841, Q844, Q846

 The Harris Poll(R) #45, June 2, 2006

By Dana Markow, Vice President of Youth and Education Research, Harris Interactive(R)

About Harris Interactive(R)

Harris Interactive, the 13th largest and fastest-growing market research firm in the world, provides clients with research-driven insights and strategic advice to help them make more confident decisions, leading to measurable and enduring improvements in performance.

Widely known for The Harris Poll(R) and for pioneering online market research methods, Harris Interactive serves clients worldwide through its United States (, Europe (, and Asia offices and is supported by its a wholly-owned subsidiary Novatris ( in Paris and an independent global network of affiliate market research companies. Harris Interactive is headquartered in Rochester, New York, and Europe operations are based in London.

To become a member of the Harris Poll Online(SM) and be invited to participate in online surveys, go to EOE M/F/D/V
 Press Contact:
 Jennifer Cummings
 Harris Interactive

CONTACT: Jennifer Cummings, Harris Interactive, +1-585-214-7720

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Date:Jun 2, 2006
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