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Jonathan Plucker
School of Education

Sarah Baumgart
School of Education

Last modified: Thursday, February 5, 2004

Survey indicates majority of Hoosiers happy with public education

The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University Bloomington recently released the 2003 Public Opinion Survey on Education in Indiana. The survey was conducted to reveal public views on a wide variety of important educational issues.

Findings of the benchmark survey indicate that a majority of Hoosiers feel positively about public education in Indiana, especially if they are parents of school-age children. Approximately two-thirds of Indiana residents rate public school teachers positively.

"The results also provide policymakers with information on public attitudes on several hot-button issues such as school choice, charter schools, full-day kindergarten and education financing," said CEEP Director Jonathan Plucker. "The most surprising result is the high percentage of Indiana adults who reported knowing very little about state efforts to improve educational accountability. This leads us to believe that we need to do a better job of educating Hoosiers about K-12 education, especially the numerous and far-reaching efforts to help our students learn. But, overall, the majority of Hoosiers say they are pleased with Indiana public schools."

Other key findings include:

-- Most Hoosiers are unfamiliar with state and local education improvement and accountability initiatives. Sixty percent of residents say they know little or nothing about the No Child Left Behind Act, while 80 percent say they know little or nothing about Indiana's Public Law 221. Slightly more than 60 percent rate themselves as either a little familiar or completely unfamiliar with the Core 40 high school curriculum.

-- More than half of Indiana residents believe public schools are not currently receiving enough funding to meet their needs. Nearly 70 percent of parents of school-age children believe that schools are under-funded.

-- A clear majority thinks the ISTEP holds schools accountable and provides parents with helpful information about a school's performance.

-- Public opinion favors several measures proposed in Indiana's P-16 plan. A majority of those who are familiar with Core 40 favor making its completion a prerequisite for state financial aid for college. Nearly 60 percent of respondents think there should be an increase in the number of 8th grade students who take algebra, a goal of the P-16 plan. Less than half of those surveyed would support full-day kindergarten if it resulted in increased taxes.

-- Nearly 80 percent of all Hoosiers think that parents should be allowed to send their children to another public school if their school fails to meet state performance standards. Among those familiar with charter schools, a slight majority favors the school choice option. About the same percentage supports the use of vouchers.

The survey, which was conducted in November 2003, reports results of 1,001 telephone interviews from a random sample of Indiana households. Overall sampling error is approximately plus or minus 3 percent. For more information on the survey, a pdf file is available on the Web at