The Quinnipiac poll out this afternoon finds New York City voters are opposed to evaluating teachers via test scores 57%-37%.
It also finds 59% of New York City voters saying that standardized tests do not accurately measure student learning while 34% say they do.
Seems New York City voters are squarely skeptical on the value and use of standardized testing.
Yet when asked "How much should these tests count in a teacher's evaluation: 100%, 75%, 50%, 25%, or not at all?", they respond:
100% - 7%
75% - 13%
50% - 26%
25% - 27%
Not - 22%
Wait - I thought NYers were opposed to evaluating teachers via test scores 57%-37%...how is it that 74% of the respondents also say that teachers should be evaluated via test scores somewhere between 25% and 100%?
A contradiction for sure.
Similarly, when asked if students should be allowed to refuse to take the "standardized tests to measure how well they're learning", the poll finds 47% say they should be allowed to refuse, 49% say they shouldn't be allowed to refuse.
Odd, that - 59% say the tests do not accurately measure student learning, but 49% want to force students to take them anyway.
Perhaps the issue with the refusal question comes in how it's asked - the tests are described as measuring "how well students learn," though many critics of the state testing regime dispute that.
It would be interesting to see what the responses would be if the tests were either not described or if there were something along the lines of "Proponents say these tests measure how well students learn while critics say they are badly designed and show no such thing."
In any case, in many ways polling is reductionist, taking complex issues and sticking them into a few round peg responses.
The biggest value to me in polling is the trends you see with a particular politician or issue over the course of a few polls.
The testing and evaluation questions are new, so we don't have trend lines, but we do with charter schools.
On the issue of paying rent if they're co-located, here are the trend lines:
March 2014: Yes - 44% No - 47%
Nov 2014 Yes - 50% No - 41%
May 2015 Yes - 52% No - 40%
There's a clear trend here - support for making charters pay rent is up 8 points to a majority 52%, opposition to making charters pay rent is down 7 percent. A 12 margin yes/no is pretty significant.
On raising the charter cap, here are the trend lines:
March 2014: Increase - 40% Decrease - 14% Keep the same - 39%
Nov 2014: Increase - 43% Decrease - 17% Keep the same - 31%
May 2015: Increase - 39% Decrease - 17% Keep the same - 35%
Here the trend is not so pronounced, but it is constant - there is no growing clamor for more charter schools.
The support for increasing the number of charters is at the lowest level in the last three polls, the support for decreasing the number of charters remains where it was last time and the support for keeping things as they are is halfway between the last two poll findings.
Charter entrepreneurs and operators like to say there is a huge demand for more charters, but the last three Q polls don't show that at all.
In March 2014, 53% of NYers said they either wanted to keep the number of charters the same or decrease them while 40% said they wanted more.
In November 2014, 49% of NYers said they either wanted to keep the number of charters the same or decrease them while 43% said they wanted more.
In May 2015, 52% of NYers say they want to keep the number of charters the same or decrease them while 39% say they want more.
I hope Quinnipiac continues to ask the testing and evaluation questions over the next few years so we can see trends with those issues the way we can with charters.
What I see in the charter trend lines is growing support for making co-located charters pay their own way and no growing clamor to increase the number of charters.