Google-Gallup Survey now Disaggregated by States: Fascinating and confusing reading

June 22, 2016 at 7:26 am 2 comments

Google has now released the results of the Gallup surveys from last year of parents, teachers, and principals about attitudes on CS disaggregated by 11 populous US states — see state reports (and methodology explanation) here.  The blog announcement about the report is here. These are fascinating to read, especially for me and my colleagues since some of these states are also ECEP states (see our recent report on activity in ECEP states).  Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Texas are doing much better than the US average in this analysis, while Ohio and North Carolina are far behind.

These are the results of a large scale survey, not an interview, or focus groups.  The advantage is that we get a lot of answers (9, 693 elementary school principals across the US). The disadvantage is that they answered these questions, without probes, follow-ups, or any “What did you mean by that?”

For example, one of the benchmark items is “CS offered > 5 years.”  My first thought was that this meant that there was CS offered in the curriculum for five grades, e.g., middle school and high school.  The actual question answered by principals was “How long has your school offered opportunities to learn computer science? (% greater than 5 years)”  So this item is about the longevity of CS ed at these particular schools that were sampled.  That’s interesting, but I’m not sure what it says about the state compared to the particular schools sampled — especially in local control states (e.g., California, Massachusetts, Nebraska) where individual districts can do anything they want.

We’re told that parents want more CS, but principals and parents mostly think that CS is computer literacy (e.g., how to use a computer).  We’re told that 64% of Michigan principals say “just as/more important” to “Do you think offering opportunities to learn CS is more important, just as important, or less important to a student’s future success than required courses like math, science, history and English?”  What does that mean, if they think that CS is keyboarding skills?  When 11% of the principals in Illinois say that demand for CS education among parents is high, does that mean that the principals think the parents think it’s keyboarding? or real CS? Is one more valuable than the other to parents, in the opinion of principals?  Maybe the principals are right, and only 11% of the parents would want CS if they knew what CS was.

Overall, recommended reading, but sometimes, it feels like reading tea leaves.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Neil Ernst  |  June 22, 2016 at 9:46 am

    State-level results miss the massive wealthy-poor divide. Here in Pittsburgh, certain suburban school districts offer theaters, radio stations and AP courses. City schools have completely different concerns. So aggregating these two regions into one PA level report seems to miss the point, in my view.

    Reply
  • 2. Alfred Thompson (@alfredtwo)  |  June 22, 2016 at 3:23 pm

    To some extent this is what you get when studies are done by people who are not academics. More useful politically than as implementation help for practitioners.

    Reply

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