This report, published in 2020, summarizes and explains Mississippi First’s findings from a public opinion poll commissioned by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board.

Overview of the Survey

In 2017, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board (MCSAB) received a federal Charter Schools Program grant to “further enable the fulfillment of MCSAB’s vision to have parent and community input into the operation of [charter] schools.” Among other strategies, MCSAB proposed to “sponsor an annual parent and general public survey” that would “assess awareness, general sentiment, satisfaction levels, and concerns about charter schools.” In 2018, and again in 2020, MCSAB commissioned Mississippi First to design, conduct, analyze, and report on an annual parent and general public survey conducted via telephone in the state of Mississippi.

Mississippi First partnered with the Survey Research Lab at Mississippi State University (SRL) to finalize the survey questions and administer the survey via telephone in July 2020. Eleven (11) demographic items were added to the 32 survey items in order to ensure respondents were representative and to enable analysis based on demographic factors. Participants were randomly drawn from one of two parent pools: a non-charter parent pool, which included parents of children eligible to attend, but not enrolled in, charter schools; and a charter parent pool, which included all parents of children enrolled in charter schools in 2019-2020.

More information about the technical aspects of the survey are available on request.

High-Level Findings include:

  • Mississippi parents support charter schools. Overall, strong majorities of all parents in Mississippi charter school communities support charter schools in their communities (75.1%). 96.3% of charter parents support charter schools in their communities while 72.7% of non-charter parents support them.
  • Parents are increasingly familiar with charter schools but still struggle to identify them as free, public schools. 3 in 4 parents in charter school communities (75.7%) report at least some familiarity with charter schools, but 53% of all parents could not correctly identify charter schools as public schools. A majority of charter parents (56%) could identify charter schools as public schools, but a majority of non-charter parents (47%) could not.
  • Parents believe public charter schools give more students access to a great public school education. 58.2% of parents in charter school communities believe opening a charter school has affected access to high-quality schools positively, including majorities of both types of parents (charter parents–84.5%; non-charter parents–54.9%).
  • Parents believe public charter schools provide a safe and nurturing environment where every student can get a great education. Charter parents remain overwhelmingly satisfied with their child’s education and school environment. Almost 100% of parents are satisfied with their students’ academic progress, and agree or strongly agree that charter schools are preparing students for college (97%), and agree or strongly agree that their child’s school is a good place to learn. 93% believe their child’s charter school is a caring and nurturing place.
  • Nearly all Mississippi public charter school parents would recommend their child’s school. 98.1% of public charter school parents would recommend their child’s school to other families.