Public on Direction of K–12 Education

About two out of five Americans believe K–12 education is heading in the right direction—an 18-point increase since 2016. Just over half say K–12 is on the wrong track—a 10-point decrease since fall 2020.

% of General Population

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016Q1; –2020 (Wave 2); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Parents on Direction of K–12 Education

But current school parents are more pessimistic about the direction of K–12 education than the general public.

% of Current School Parents

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q1; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (Wave 2); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Parent Satisfaction by School Type

A far greater proportion of private school parents report being very satisfied with their children’s schooling experiences, compared to other sectors.

% of Current School Parents with Experience

Notes: All percentages reflect the count of coded responses divided by the total number of weighted interviews. Unweighted N’s are provided so the reader can roughly assess the reliability of reported percentages.

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q4

Parents’ Reasons for Choosing a School

Homeschoolers were much more likely than other parent groups to indicate a “safe environment” and “individual/one-on-one attention” as a top-three factor for how they preferred to school their children.

% of Current School Parents Providing Ranking 1, 2, or 3

By School Type Child(ren) Ever Attended

Note: Responses of “Don’t Know” or “Not Applicable” not shown. Respondents were permitted to skip the question, which is also not shown.

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q5, Q6, Q7, Q8

Grading Local Schools by Type

Parents are more likely to give the private schools in their area an A/B grade, compared to local districts or charter schools.

% of Current School Parents Giving “A” or “B” Grade

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2020. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q11; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (Wave 2); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Likelihood to Seek Learning Pods

More than half of charter school parents said they were at least somewhat likely to seek out a learning pod for their children—substantially higher than parents with children in other types of schools.

% of Current School Parents by Sector

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q31

Likelihood to Seek Tutoring

About half of private and charter school parents indicated they were likely to seek out tutoring for their children—a much higher level than district school or homeschooling parents.

% of Current School Parents by Sector

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q33

Estimating School Spending

Most Americans and parents drastically underestimate public school spending. The median parent respondent said spending is significantly less than the lowest state average.

% of Respondents

Note: Percentages based on those offering estimates

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q9

Is School Funding Enough?

Question Wording A: Do you believe that public school funding in [Your State] is at a level that is:

Question Wording B: According to the most recent information available, on average $[Amount] is being spent per year on each student attending public schools in [Your State]. Do you believe that public school funding in [Your State] is at a level that is:

% of General Population by Split Question Version

Notes: Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.” “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q10

Schooling Preferences vs. Enrollment Patterns

Actual enrollment patterns do not reflect the diversity of parents’ schooling preferences.

% of Respondents

Notes: The percentages in this chart reflect a composite that averages split samples’ responses to two slightly different versions of this question. Responses within parentheses were volunteered: “DK” means “Don’t Know.” “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: Authors’ calculations; National Center for Education Statistics (NCES); EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q12

Parents' Reasons for School Type Preference

There is a wide range of reasons Americans say they prefer any school type.

TOP REASONS LISTED

% of Current School Parents by Preferred School Type

Notes: Lists cite the total number of unweighted interviews (N) per school type grouping. However, all percentages reflect the count of coded responses divided by the total number of weighted interviews. Unweighted N’s are provided so the reader can roughly assess the reliability of reported percentages.

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q13

Education Savings Account (ESA) Favorability

When given a description of ESAs, support increased by 28 points for parents and 28 points for the general population.

% of Respondents Replying “Strongly/Somewhat Favor”

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q19 and Q20

School Voucher Favorability

Nearly 80 percent of parents support school vouchers—unchanged since last year. They are at least two times more likely to support vouchers than oppose such a policy.

% of Current School Parents

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q18; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Charter School Favorability

When given a description of charter schools, support increased by six points for parents and 10 points for the general population.

% of Respondents Replying “Strongly/Somewhat Favor”

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q15 and Q16

Public Favorability for Choice Reforms Trends

There have been small dips in total support for four types of educational choice reforms since fall 2020. However, levels are still higher now than they were in 2019 and prior years.

% of General Population

Notes: From 2013 to 2015 we slightly changed question wording to more accurately reflect the features of an education savings account (ESA) program and to avoid the inclusion of potentially loaded words or limiting ESA uses. Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q16, Q18, Q20, and Q24; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (Wave 2); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Parent Favorability for Choice Reforms Trends

Parents’ levels of support for four types of educational choice reforms are statistically similar to 2020 and remain much higher than they were in 2018 or prior years.

% of Current School Parents

Notes: From 2013 to 2015 we slightly changed question wording to more accurately reflect the features of an education savings account (ESA) program and to avoid the inclusion of potentially loaded words or limiting ESA uses. Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q16, Q18, Q20, and Q24; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (Wave 2); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Public Favorability Trends

Nearly 80 percent of Americans support ESAs. Favorability of ESAs is slightly lower than last year but still higher than pre-pandemic years.

% of General Population

Notes: From 2013 to 2015 we slightly changed question wording to more accurately reflect the features of an ESA program and to avoid the inclusion of potentially loaded words or limiting ESA uses. Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2020. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q20; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Parent Favorability Trends

Current school parents are approximately four times more likely to support ESAs than they are to oppose them.

% of Current School Parents

Notes: From 2013 to 2015 we slightly changed question wording to more accurately reflect the features of an ESA program and to avoid the inclusion of potentially loaded words or limiting ESA uses. Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2020. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q20; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Reasons for Supporting ESAs

Approximately three out of five Americans agree ESAs allow more freedom and flexibility for parents, focus on more individual attention, and provide access to better academic environments and safer learning environments.

% of General Population

Notes: Respondents were permitted to skip the question, which is not shown.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q21

Reasons for Opposing ESAs

Americans tend to disagree that ESAs may cause student transportation problems. They also are more likely to be neutral or disagree with other statements suggesting negative effects.

% of General Population

Notes: Respondents were permitted to skip the question, which is not shown.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q22

Universal vs. Needs-Based ESAs Trends

More than three-fourths of the public support universal ESAs—a similar result to what we have observed in recent years.

% of General Population by Split Sample

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Volunteered responses not shown. “Don’t Know,  Refusals, nor skips reflected in this chart.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q23; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (Wave 2); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Public Favorability Trends

Two-thirds of the public support school vouchers. The level of overall support has decreased six points since Fall 2020—but remains higher than all years prior to the pandemic.

% of General Population

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q18; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Parent Favorability Trends

Nearly 80 percent of parents support school vouchers—unchanged since last year. They are at least two times more likely to support vouchers than oppose such a policy.

% of Current School Parents

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q18; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Public Favorability Trends

Seven out of 10 Americans support tax-credit scholarships—higher than all years prior to 2020.

% of General Population

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q24; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Parent Favorability Trends

Eight out of 10 school parents support tax-credit scholarships—higher than all years prior to 2020. Parents are three times more likely to support tax-credit scholarships than they are to oppose.

% of Current School Parents

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q24; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Public Favorability

Nearly two out of three Americans favor charter schools—higher than all years prior to 2020.

% of General Population

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q15; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2020 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Parent Favorability

Nearly three out of four current school parents support charter schools—higher than all years prior to 2020. Parents are two times more likely to support charters than oppose them.

% of Current School Parents

Notes: Phone-only survey results shown for 2013–2017. Mixed-mode results (online and phone) shown for 2018–2021. Responses within parentheses were volunteered. “DK” means “Don’t Know.”  “Ref” means “Refusal.” For the online survey, the respondent was permitted to skip the question.

Sources: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q15; EdChoice, Schooling in America Survey, 2016–2019 (partial samples of General Population); Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Schooling in America Survey, 2013–2015

Inter-district Favorability

Homeschool parents are most likely to favor students being allowed to transfer to a public school in another district.

% of Respondents Replying “Strongly/Somewhat Favor”

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q25

Intra-district Favorability

Public district school parents and homeschoolers are most likely to favor students being allowed to transfer to another public school within their resident school district.

% of Respondents Replying “Strongly/Somewhat Favor”

Source: EdChoice, 2021 Schooling in America Survey (conducted June 14–July 8, 2021), Q25

Survey Profile

Administration/Fielding Dates: June 14 to July 8, 2021

Sponsor and Developer: EdChoice

Administration, Data Collection and Quality Control: Braun Research, Inc.

Population: General Population (Adults, Age 18+)

Sampling Frame: National sample of adults (age 18+) living in the United States, including D.C.

Sampling Method: Mixed Method (Phone: Probability-based; Dual frame | Online: Non-probability-based; Opt-in panel)

Mode: Phone for General Population, N = 404

  – Cell Phone = 75%

  – Landline = 25%

  Online for General Population, N = 805

  Phone/Online for School Parents, N = 1,238

Languages: English; Spanish option

Median Survey Time: Phone (General Population): 20 minutes; Online (General Population, Not School Parents): 16.4 minutes; Online (School Parents):  16.8 minutes

Sample Sizes: General Population, N = 1,209; School Parents (Plus Oversample), N = 1,238

Quotas: African-American School Parents, N = 203 [200]; Hispanic School Parents, N = 252 [200]

Weighting: General Population – Age, Census Division, Gender, Ethnicity, Race, Education, Phone Usage

    School Parents – Age, Census Region, Gender, Race

Questionnaire and topline results: Click to the Questionnaire tab to download.

Project Contact: Paul DiPerna, paul@edchoice.org