By an undisputed majority, California voters strongly support more state standardized testing, both to measure student progress and to evaluate teachers, a poll released Tuesday shows.
Almost two-thirds of voters surveyed said California should test students in every grade level, and a majority said high school students should be tested in all subjects. About 43 percent said teachers should be evaluated on students' standardized test performance, classroom reviews and peer evaluations.
Those were among the findings of a PACE/USC Rossier School of Education poll that sampled 1,001 voters in English and Spanish online Aug. 27-30. The results add to other recently released national poll results, which ranged from moderate approval to outright opposition to standardized testing.
"I fully support the results of our poll and believe they reflect what Californians think," said Morgan Polikoff, assistant professor at the Rossier School at the University of Southern California.
He attributed varying findings among polls largely to differences in wording. The results indicate, he said, that standardized tests should remain an important part of the state's education policy.
The findings didn't change the minds of those who oppose state testing. "Standardized testing -- we hope it goes away," said Marisa Hanson, head of the East Side Teachers Association in San Jose. Evaluating teachers based on student scores offers the wrong incentive, she said. "Do we really want teachers to go only to schools where they know they're going to have higher test scores?"
Overall, respondents held a dim view of public education -- 45.3 percent of all respondents and 48.4percent of parents of schoolchildren -- would give schools a C, and about a quarter in both groups would give a D.
About half the people say public schools have gotten worse in the past few years, although about 40 percent said their own local schools have stayed the same.
Voters said California and schools are doing barely a mediocre job in 10 areas such as ensuring adequate funding and quality teachers, holding staff and parents accountable, teaching and preparing students for university and jobs and providing parents with choices.
An overwhelming majority -- 68.1 percent of all respondents and 80.6 percent of parents -- said the state should spend more money on schools. Yet they were split on whether to extend Proposition 30's temporary sales tax and the tax on the wealthy that voters passed last year to shore up schools.
Strong majorities also said schools should spend more time teaching everything: academic subjects, PE, music, art and personal finance.
A plurality believe local school boards, and not the state or federal government or individual teachers, should set education standards. But most respondents were unaware of both Gov. Jerry Brown's initiative to award schools more control through his Local Control Funding Formula, and the upcoming Common Core standards, curriculum and test that will overhaul what and how schools teach.
On teacher performance, respondents gave conflicting answers.
Many respondents, 43 percent, cited removing bad teachers from classrooms as a way to have the most impact on public schools. And if a school fails, 48 percent would blame the teachers, while 28 percent would blame parents.
But when students repeatedly fail to perform at acceptable levels, 42 percent said they would provide teachers with more support and training, compared with 29 percent who said it should be easier to fire teachers.
The poll was conducted by MFour Research and Tulchin Research for USC and for Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent, nonpartisan research center. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.
Contact Sharon Noguchi at 408-271-3775. Follow her at Twitter.com/NoguchiOnK12.