According to a major national poll, a slim margin of American adults are at least “somewhat satisfied” with the overall quality of K-12 education for the first time in 15 years.

In the annual Gallup Poll on Education, conducted most recently in August 2019, 51% of respondents reported being “somewhat satisfied” (41%) or “completely satisfied” (10%) with the quality of primary and secondary education – including public, private, parochial, charter, and home schooling. This is the first time since 2004 that satisfaction rates have exceeded dissatisfaction rates in the poll, however slightly.

Of course, it is important to consider the daunting reality of the corollary: Nearly half of the more than 1,500 American adults polled are either “somewhat dissatisfied” (32%) or “completely dissatisfied” (15%) with the quality of K-12 education. (The remaining 2% had no opinion.) Clearly, much work remains to be done to instill greater confidence among the American people in the quality of K-12 education in this country.

The poll also yields encouraging news about satisfaction among families actually engaged in K-12 education. Satisfaction rates are higher – 58% — among adults who have a child under the age of 18, up 13 percentage points in just one year. Conversely, only 48% of adults who do not have a child in K-12 schooling report being satisfied. 

These figures underscore the urgent need not only to improve K-12 education across all types of schooling but also to communicate more effectively with families and the general public about the actual quality of teaching and learning. As schools work to advance student achievement, it is just as critical to build confidence in the K-12 education sector in order to bolster and sustain public support.