Blog: Latino Ed Beat

Poll: Calif. Latino Voters Value Standardized Tests

Californians stand in line to vote at Stanford University. A recent poll conducted by the Los Angeles Times and the USC Donrsife College of Letters, Arts and Science reveals Latino and white voters feel differently about the value of standardized tests in public schools. Source: Flickr/ Josh Thompson (CC BY 2.0)

According to the majority of Latino voters in California, mandatory standardized tests in schools are valuable to improving public education across the state.

In a telephone poll of 1,504 registered voters conducted by the University of Southern California Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences and the Los Angeles Times, 55 percent of voters of Latino ethnicity placed a high value on standardized tests. Zahira Torres reports for the LA Times that about the same percentage of white voters said the opposite — that “such exams are harmful because they force educators to narrow instruction and don’t account for different styles of learning.”

Additionally, only 23 percent of Latinos thought students in public schools were tested too frequently; 44 percent of white voters said the same.

Speaking to the differing viewpoints, Dave Kanevsky, a Republican from American Viewpoint who worked on the bipartisan poll said, ”Race and socioeconomic status are so highly tied together that your new emerging communities, which are a little more downscale, are so much more invested in a better education system. They’re not really satisfied with what they’re getting, so they are willing to try new things, whether that’s more testing to make sure that kids are learning, whether that’s reforming teacher tenure or judging teachers not solely on testing but more on testing progress measurements and less on seniority.”

The poll also asked respondents questions about teacher tenure and race relations. In general, minority voters showed a stronger preference than white voters for providing additional financial support to schools and preserving teacher tenure.

Socioeconomic status contributed to respondents’ viewpoints on standardized testing and public schools, according to the team behind the poll. For example, the majority view Latinos expressed on standardized tests was more often held by voters who did not attend college, Torres writes. 

One thing to note: The more than 3 million Latinos in California’s public schools make up more than half of the states total K-12 enrollment, according to 2013-14 figures from the California Department of Education.