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2015 Public Education Perceptions Poll: Most Duval County residents unaware of improvements to the graduation rate

Annual poll shows growing community confidence in school leadership and support for key improvement efforts

undefinedJACKSONVILLE, Fla., December 1, 2015 — Duval County residents are on average four years behind when it comes to perceptions of the graduation rate, according to results of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s annual Public Education Perceptions Poll.

A new question this year asked poll respondents what they thought the current Duval County high school graduation rate was, and the average response was 61 percent. Duval’s graduation rate is currently 74 percent. It was 63 percent in 2011.

The poll also found increasing confidence in school district leadership, with more respondents — more than half overall — rating the Duval County School Board and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti as effective. A new question found that more than three quarters of respondents think Duval County public school teachers are effective.

Among the other key findings:

  • More people would support a small increase in taxes if the funds went to public education, increasing substantially to 70 percent from 60 percent last year.
  • Respondents think the district has made the most progress over the last year in the areas of recruiting, developing and retaining great teachers and leaders, and engaging parents, families and the community.
  • More respondents now believe that a two-year or four-year postsecondary degree are the minimum required to be successful in the future — an encouraging sign because by 2020, 60 percent of jobs will require some postsecondary training.
  • Confidence in test scores and school grades is declining, with fewer people saying that would be the top factor considered when choosing a school. It is still, however, by far the factor most-often used in evaluating schools, and even more so among parents and guardians.
  • The perceptions gap is lower among people with a direct connection to public schools. Continuing a trend seen in previous polls, parents of Duval County Public Schools students are more likely to rate the district’s performance as significantly higher than ratings of non-parents and they have a slightly more accurate perception of the graduation rate.

“When it comes to public education, taking the pulse of the community is vital,” said Jacksonville Public Education Fund President Trey Csar. “This survey adds context and hard figures to the community conversation that we’re all having around how best to prepare students to succeed in the future.”

The poll was sponsored, funded, and analyzed by the Jacksonville Public Education Fund, and  conducted by the Public Opinion Research Laboratory at the University of North Florida in early November. The sample of 534 adults was selected from the target population of Duval County adults (18 years or older) through the use of Random-Digit-Dialing methodology for both landlines and cell phones. The margin of sampling error for this survey was +/- 4.24 percent.

See interactive visualizations of the data online here.

See below for the Powerpoint presentation from the press conference.