South Carolinians share high expectations for public schools, but they disagree about how to meet them.
That was among the key findings on a survey of public engagement released Monday by the state's Education Oversight Committee. The committee surveyed educators, parents, taxpayers and business leaders to get information it will use to set state education goals for 2020.
Other key findings in the survey, which was conducted by Clemson University, included:
• Many South Carolinians are not familiar with educational trends regionally or nationally.
• State residents largely are surprised when they learn about gaps in achievement between different groups of students.
Project leaders surveyed more than 6,500 residents through focus groups and phone and Web surveys. They will use the information to determine the criteria for and establish for schools and districts five academic performance ratings: excellent, good, average, below average and at risk.
Many local education leaders hadn't yet reviewed the data Monday afternoon.
But Dorchester District 2 Superintendent Joe Pye said he's not surprised by the results, not even by the finding that more than half of educators surveyed thought parents provide no support for academic achievement at home, while smaller percentages of parents and taxpayers thought that.
A lot of parents today think a student's education is solely the responsibility of schools and teachers, Pye said. Such parents think students shouldn't have homework and that teachers should tutor them one-on-one if they need academic help, he said.
Pye also said he's not surprised people, especially parents, aren't aware that academic achievement gaps exist between different groups of students, such as those who are lower income compared with those who are well off, or students from different racial groups.
Parents are mostly concerned about how their own children are performing, Pye said. He's never heard a complaint that a certain group of students is performing below other groups. "There's no urgency about that," he said.
In his experience, Pye said, parents and residents who spend time in schools tend to hold perceptions and opinions closer to those of educators.