How we did this work

About the poll

The PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools has been a steady reflection of U.S. opinion about public education since 1969.

The PDK poll is the most trusted source of public opinion about K-12 education because of its rigor, its depth, and its commitment to capturing all voices and viewpoints. This year, as always, PDK has taken great care to frame poll questions as objectively as possible and to share the full and unvarnished results. Rather than offering a partial or restricted view of the data, we are committed to allowing the public to speak for itself.

PDK produces the annual poll as part of its mission to engage educators and serve schools so every student thrives. The PDK poll results provide researchers with some of the finest longitudinal data on how the public feels about the nation's schools and education policies. Education policy makers use the poll's findings to inform their decisions, and educators across the country use the results to guide planning and action in their communities.

Rather than offering a partial or restricted view of the data, we are committed to allowing the public to speak for itself.

The poll is the result of a random representative sample of U.S. adults. Details about the methodology and the questionnaire are shared with the public along with the responses to every question that is asked.

The poll was the brainchild of two Denver-based foundation executives, Charles F. Kettering II and Edward A. Brainard. The two men enlisted George Gallup Sr. to conduct the first poll, which he did in April 1969.

The findings of the first poll were published in Phi Delta Kappan magazine in November 1969. Beginning in 1970, the poll has been published each year in Kappan magazine.

In a history of the first 20 years of the poll, Stanley Elam, editor-in-chief of Kappan magazine, quoted Brainard in describing the essential purpose of the poll:

“The original purpose was to obtain information for public school educators — information that would help them better serve their students and their communities.” Elam, 2

The first poll included 66 questions because the poll authors were trying to establish benchmarks against which opinion change could be measured in later years. More recently, the polls include about 30 questions. Overall, in its 50 years, the poll has included hundreds of different questions. Access to the poll archive is limited to members of PDK International through its membership site.

From 1969 to 2015, the poll’s fieldwork was done by Gallup, including significant involvement by members of the Gallup family. During those years, it was known as the PDK/Gallup poll.

Since 2016, Langer Research Associates of New York City has produced the poll for PDK.

In 2017, for the first time, PDK also produced two state polls in Georgia and New York, thanks to support from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

This year marks the 51st year that PDK International has sponsored the annual poll on education. Support for the 2019 PDK poll was provided by the PDK Educational Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.