Thursday, September 11, 2014

Cory Turner's "A tale of two polls"

LA Johnson for NPR
Cory Turner, reporting for NPR, found that differences in survey word choice affected research participant support of the Common Core in education. The story follows two polling organizations and the exact phrasing they used when they asked participants whether or not they support the Common Core. Support for the Core varied by *20%* based upon the phrasing (highlighted below):

Education Next Question:
"As you may know, in the last few years states have been deciding whether or not to use the Common Core, which are standards for reading and math that are the same across the states. In the states that have these standards, they will be used to hold public schools accountable for their performance. Do you support or oppose the use of the Common Core standards in your state?" (53% support)

PDK/Gallup Question:

"Do you favor or oppose having the teachers in your community use the Common Core State Standards to guide what they teach?" (33% support)

Turner speculates that people love the idea of accountability and that the use of that word by Education Next (as well as more contextual information) leads to the difference in support.

I used this example in my statistics class in order to emphasize the importance of word choice when creating scales.