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NEWS RELEASES 1999-00

NEWS RELEASES 1999-00 :: MAY 6, 2000

2000 SPRING CAROLINA POLL THE PUBLIC'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Results from the Carolina Poll are in and the news is positive for public schools. The Carolina Poll is conducted twice yearly by the UNC-Chapel Hill Center for Research in Journalism and Mass Communication. The report on the results stated, "North Carolinians appear to be generally satisfied with the public schools in this state." More than half of those polled (52.3 percent) said they would give the public schools in their communities a grade of A or B. Another 26 percent would give the grade of C. In total, more than three-fourths of those polled (78 percent) would give public schools in their communities a C or above. Fourteen percent grade their schools with a D or F. These numbers are consistent with those found in the Fall 1997 Carolina Poll and in the national Gallup Poll.

North Carolinians appear to recognize the fact that standards are being raised in our state. The numbers show that citizens appear to be more satisfied with student achievement standards than they were in 1997. The percentage of citizens who think that achievement standards are about right increased from 1997 to 2000 with 44 percent saying that student achievement standards are about right. The percentage of citizens who feel that standards are too low dropped from 47 percent to 38 percent.

Some of the most interesting responses are from the question on school violence. North Carolinians who said that school violence is not very serious or is not a problem increased from 56 percent in 1997 to 65 percent in 2000. Even more startling is the fact that from a survey of North Carolinians in 1993, 32 percent said school violence was not very serious or not a problem while 57 percent said school violence was a very serious or serious problem. We know that schools are some of the safest places for children, and citizens increasingly appear to believe this as well. Continued focus is necessary, however, since 30 percent perceive that school violence is still a problem.

There was relatively little change in the percentages of citizens who want to see public funds used to help students pay for private schools. A majority of North Carolinians oppose such a measure. Our state has an even lower number of citizens who want their tax dollars used for this purpose than the national figures. The number opposing this idea has increased, but not significantly.

The final question related to reforming the existing system of public schools or finding an alternative provides benchmark data that we can use to compare North Carolina to the nation. The UNC researchers said that, "Consistent with the other results of this poll, North Carolinians seem to think that the best way to improve the public school system is to reform the existing system, not to find an alternative system." Of those polled, 62 percent said that focus should be on reforming the existing system. In addition, 13 percent felt that there were no major changes necessary. Only 19 percent thought finding an alternative system was the best solution. These figures are consistent with the results of the Gallup Poll.

(With comparison to previous Carolina and Gallup Polls, where available)

Students are often given the grades A, B, C, D, and Fail to denote the quality of their work. Suppose the public schools themselves, in your community, were graded in the same way. What grade would you give the public schools where you live - A, B, C, D or Fail?

  2000 CAROLINA POLL 1999 GALLUP POLL 1997 CAROLINA POLL 1997 GALLUP POLL
  652 people polledMargin of error +3.8 1,103 people polledMargin of error +3.0 766 people polledMargin of error +3.5 1,517 people polledMargin of error +2.5
A & B 52 49 49 46
A 17 11 15 10
B 36 38 34 36
C 26 31 25 32
D 9 9 7 11
Fail 5 5 5 6
Don't Know 9 6 14 5


* Do you think student achievement standards in your community are: too high, about right or too low?

  2000 CAROLINA POLL 1999 GALLUP POLL 1997 CAROLINA POLL 1997 GALLUP POLL
  652 people polledMargin of error +3.8 1,103 people polledMargin of error +3.0 766 people polledMargin of error +3.5 1,517 people polledMargin of error +2.5
Too High 8 6 5 NA
About Right 44 57 39 NA
Too Low 38 33 47 NA
Don't Know 10 4 9 NA
*Significant differences between the 1997 and 2000 Carolina Polls.Note: Due to rounding, some columns may not add up to 100.


*How serious is the problem of school violence in your community? Would you say it is very serious, serious, not very serious or not a problem?

  2000 CAROLINA POLL 1999 GALLUP POLL 1997 CAROLINA POLL 1997 GALLUP POLL
  652 people polledMargin of error +3.8 1,103 people polledMargin of error +3.0 766 people polledMargin of error +3.5 1,517 people polledMargin of error +2.5
Very Serious 6% NA 10% NA
Serious 24 NA 27 NA
Not very serious 45 NA 39 NA
Not a problem 20 NA 17 NA
Don't Know 4 NA 6 NA
* Significant differences between the 1997 and 2000 Carolina Polls.Note 1: A Public Agenda survey in 1999 asked how big a problem violence and lack of school safety is for the public schools. Results: Major problem—35%; Minor problem—43%; Not a problem—21%; and Don't know—1%Note: 2: A North Carolina poll (not the Carolina Poll) in 1993 had the following responses to this question: Very serious—23%; Serious—34%; Not very serious—30%; and Not a problem—2%


Do you favor or oppose using public funds to help students pay for private schools?

  2000 CAROLINA POLL 1999 GALLUP POLL 1997 CAROLINA POLL 1997 GALLUP POLL
  652 people polledMargin of error +3.8 1,103 people polledMargin of error +3.0 766 people polledMargin of error +3.5 1,517 people polledMargin of error +2.5
Favor 33 41 38 44
Oppose 55 55 52 52
It Depends 5 NA NA NA
Don't Know 7 4 10 4
- A variation of this question was asked in the 1997 Carolina Poll and in the Gallup Polls.


In order to improve the public school system, some people think the focus should be on reforming the existing system. Others believe the focus should be on finding an alternative system. Which approach would you support - reforming the existing system or finding an alternative system? Or do you think no major changes are necessary?

  2000 CAROLINA POLL 1999 GALLUP POLL 1997 CAROLINA POLL 1997 GALLUP POLL
  652 people polledMargin of error +3.8 1,103 people polledMargin of error +3.0 766 people polledMargin of error +3.5 1,517 people polledMargin of error +2.5
Reforming existing system 62 71 NA 71
Finding alternative system 19 27 NA 23
No major changes necessary 13 NA NA NA
Don't Know 6 2 NA 6
- A variation of this question was asked in the 1997 Carolina Poll and in the Gallup Polls.

About the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction:
The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction provides leadership to 115 local public school districts and 126 charter schools serving over 1.5 million students in kindergarten through high school graduation. The agency is responsible for all aspects of the state's public school system and works under the direction of the North Carolina State Board of Education.


For more information:
NCDPI Communication and Information Division, 919.807.3450.