2019 PressuresAndProblems (Getty)
What Americans say about…

How do you rate problems and pressures?

Half of teachers see pressure to do well on tests as a big problem, compared with about three in 10 parents. Teachers are slightly more likely than parents to perceive the pressure to conform as a problem at school. Both groups rate racism, religious bias, and bias toward gay, lesbian, and/or transgender students as relatively small problems.

The PDK poll asked parents to rate problems and pressures in the school their child or oldest child attends, and teachers to rate the same challenges at the school where they work. As mentioned in the introduction to this report, 50% of teachers see pressure to do well on tests as a major problem or a problem, compared with 29% of K-12 parents. That’s higher among male than female teachers (62% vs. 46%) but high across the board among teachers compared with parents. (Teachers may be reporting pressure on them, while parents likely focus on the level of pressure on students.)

Test pressure is a particular concern among Latinx parents (42%); as noted, Latinx also are most apt to focus on test performance as a sign of school quality. Test pressure also is more likely to be seen as a problem by high school parents (35%) than those with children in lower grades (25%).

2019 Problems Pressures At School

Both parents and teachers point to the pressure to conform as a problem in schools; however, teachers (37%) are more likely than parents (30%) to describe it as a problem. In addition, teachers are more likely than parents to perceive verbal harassment (34% vs. 27%) and cyberbullying (31% vs. 23%) as problems at school.

There’s general agreement on other issues. One-quarter of parents and teachers alike see physical bullying as a problem and about 2 in 10 say the same about pressure to try alcohol or drugs or to smoke or use e-cigarettes.

Although the 2018 PDK poll revealed that parents had little confidence that their child’s school could protect against a school shooting, only 16% of parents this year named safety and security as a big problem at their child’s school; 13% of teachers agreed.

In addition, a majority of teachers and parents play down the incidence of racism, religious bias, and bias against gay, lesbian, or transgender students. Of the problems suggested to parents, these three came near the bottom of their lists of problems (along with safety and sexual harassment).


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