Survey: Americans want more news about teacher effectiveness

Americans want more news coverage of how teachers and students are performing, according to a survey released today by the Brookings Institution.

More than 70 percent of respondents said that they wanted more news coverage of teacher effectiveness and of student academic performance. Nearly the same percentage want to know more about school safety, curriculum, finances and school reform.

In previous studies, the report’s authors have found that education policy and curriculum issues are frequently under-covered in national news. Of the national news stories on education examined in a 2009 study, just under 5 percent were about education reform, and just 3.4 percent covered curriculum.

Many of the report’s other findings are unsurprising — for example, the survey found that younger adults, who are more likely to have school-age children, want more education news than senior citizens do.

The survey found that people — especially young people — are accessing their news through new channels, including cell phone text messages. Nearly as many people turned to websites for their education news as they did to national television. But the report’s authors were surprised at how many people, including the youngest respondents, rely heavily on daily newspapers for their information about schools:

The fact that those under 30 were even more likely than the middle-aged to rely on newspapers for education news suggests that expanding education coverage might be a useful strategy for newspapers trying to shore up their readership among the young.

The report also notes that even parents, who have the most access to school-based networks and newsletters, still look to newspapers for education news.

The report is a follow-up to two other studies that the Brookings Institution published in 2009 and 2010. Those studies found that less than 2 percent of all national news coverage was dedicated to education and that digital technologies are changing the way that news organizations cover education.

Read the new report in full here.