Pop quiz: What’s the biggest problem with the American K-12 education system? If you answered “All of the above,” go to the head of the class and take another standardized test that reveals nothing about your actual aptitude for learning. Just kidding, the SATs are so 2022.
A newly-published study from think tank Populace (with research conducted by YouGov and our very own Gradient Metrics) reveals the general public’s priorities for the public K-12 education system. The cliffnotes version for slackers who skipped Ulysses: Americans don’t want to improve what already exists, they want something different. More than half of Americans (55%) believe schools should rethink how they teach students, rather than revert to the pre-COVID status quo (34%).
Populace’s Purpose of Education Index digs deep into Americans’ priorities for the K-12 education system, including how those priorities have shifted over time. For example, in the 2019 before times respondents ranked “Students are prepared to enroll in a college or university” as tenth out of 57 education priorities. Quiz (this one doesn’t have to be “pop”): Where do Americans rank college prep now that COVID has made us more existential than Hamlet? If you answered anything less than forty-seventh, you’re probably as surprised as we are. Alas, poor… Princeton?
This landmark study, which was covered by online media agency Axios, also reveals vast differences between personal education priorities and publicly perceived education priorities in America, one more indication the system is, to use a very academic term, broken.