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ERIC Number: ED531338
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar-13
Pages: 76
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Washington K-12 & School Choice Survey: What Do Voters Say about K-12 Education? Polling Paper Number 6
DiPerna, Paul
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
The "Washington K-12 & School Choice Survey" project, commissioned by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice and conducted by Braun Research Incorporated (BRI), measures Washington registered voters' familiarity and views on a range of K-12 education topics and school choice reforms. The author and his colleagues report response "levels" and "differences" (using the term "net score" or "net") of voter opinion, and the "intensity" of responses. Where do Washington's voters stand on important issues and policy proposals in K-12 education? The author and his colleagues attempt to provide some observations and insights in this paper. A randomly selected and statistically representative sample of Washington voters recently responded to 17 substantive questions and 11 demographic questions. A total of 602 telephone interviews were conducted in English from February 9 to 20, 2012, by means of both landline and cell phone. Statistical results were weighted to correct known demographic discrepancies. The margin of sampling error for the statewide sample is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. In this project they included four split-sample experiments. A split-sample design is a systematic way of comparing the effects of two or more alternative wordings for a given question. The purpose is to see if particular wording, or providing a new piece of information, can significantly influence opinion on a given topic. For this survey, they were particularly interested in how wording can affect responses to questions on taxes, education spending, and digital learning--all salient issues in Washington state politics and policy discussions. Key findings include: (1) The vast majority of Washington's voters (79%) are paying attention to issues in K-12 education. Only 5% of voters say they pay no attention; (2) Washingtonians are much less likely to think that K-12 education is heading in the "right direction" (31%) compared to being on the "wrong track" (52%). The statewide sample produces a negative net score (-21 net), suggesting major discontent among voters; (3) Washington voters tend to be positive in the way they rate the state's public school system (52% say "good" or "excellent"; 44% say "fair" or "poor"). In lay terms, the electorate is saying the schools are pretty good, but in light of the previous question, voters are saying they are not content with the pace of improvements; (4) Generally speaking, Washington voters do not know how much is spent in the public schools. There is a yawning information gap; (5) When given the latest per-student spending information, voters are less likely to say public school funding is at a level that is "too low" compared to answering without having such information; (6) In a split-sample experiment, it appears voters are more likely to want tax increases to fund public schools at the state level (47%), rather than increases at the local level (30%). A plurality of voters would like an increase at the state level, compared to keeping taxes "about the same" (36%) or a decrease (13%). On the other hand, a plurality of voters would like local taxes to "stay about the same" (45%), compared to those wanting an increase (30%) or decrease (19%) in local taxes; (7) When asked for a preferred school type, Washington voters demonstrate a serious disconnect between their preferred school types and actual enrollment patterns in the state; (8) About 15% of voters in the survey prioritize a "better education" as the key attribute they are looking for in the selection of a school. The second most important attribute, as suggested by 11% of all voters, is "individual attention"; (9) Washington voters are much more likely to favor charter schools (60%), rather than oppose such schools (23%). More than 4 of 10 voters (46%) say they are at least somewhat familiar with charter schools, which is similar awareness compared to what the author and his colleagues have seen in other states; (10) Depending on terminology, voters appear to shift their lightly-held views on virtual/online schools. In a split-sample experiment, the author and his colleagues asked identical questions, but alternated the terms "virtual school" and "online school"; (11) Washington voters clearly support "tax-credit scholarships." The percentage of those who favor (59% or 66%, depending on the question version) is more than double the number of people who say they oppose the policy (25% and 21%). No matter the wording of the question, the author and his colleagues measure very positive reactions (+34 net and +45 net); (12) Washington voters support an "education savings account" system (also called "ESA"). The percentage of those who favor ESAs (57%) is much larger than the proportion who say they oppose (31%) the policy. The net score is large (+26 net) with some enthusiasm (+7 intensity); and (13) Washington voters give solid support for school vouchers, 55% say they favor the school choice policy compared to 35% who say they oppose such a system. About one-third third of voters (35%) say they are at least somewhat familiar with school vouchers, which is a bit lower awareness compared to what the author and his colleagues have seen in other states.
Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. Available from: Foundation for Educational Choice. One American Square Suite 2420, Indianapolis, IN 46282. Tel: 317-681-0745; Fax: 317-681-0945; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice
Identifiers - Location: Washington