Overview of the Report

In 2016, Mississippi First, in collaboration with the Survey Research Laboratory at Mississippi State University (SRL), developed a survey to measure public opinion in Mississippi on a wide selection of education topics, including school quality, accountability, charter schools, school funding, and early education. The report of the findings was published in 2017.

High-Level Findings

  • Almost none of the respondents could accurately estimate Mississippi public school funding. The vast majority of respondents (92.4%) in the sample did not know how much the state spent on public school funding per child each year. For those who stated that they knew how much the state spent on public school funding each year per child, the range of responses was quite varied, from $700 per pupil per year to $35,000 per pupil per year. Nonetheless, 26% of respondents chose insufficient funding as the most important issue facing public schools today.
  • Respondents expressed strong support for standardized testing. 57% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that standardized tests should continue to be required each year in grades 3 through 8 and in high school.
  • Respondents expressed strong support for common tests across states. 66% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that the same standardized tests should be used in every state.
  • A majority of respondents reported being “not at all familiar” with charter schools. 57.5% of respondents knew nothing about charter schools. White respondents were more likely to report some familiarity than non-white respondents (21.7% v. 10.5%). Wealthier respondents were also more likely to report some familiarity than low-income respondents.
  • When given basic background information, respondents supported charter schools. 55.3% of respondents support for having charter schools in Mississippi. 58.8% of respondents believe that charter schools would affect education positively in their community.
  • Respondents expressed the strongest support for the importance of pre-K. Nearly 90% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that pre-K is important for preparing children for their continuing education. Only 8.2% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the given statement. This was the strongest level of agreement for any of the agree/disagree questions that Mississippi First asked about any topic.
  • Respondents expressed very strong support for the need for the state to fund pre-K. 82.9% of respondents either agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that the State of Mississippi should fund pre-K in all school districts throughout the state. Only 10.5% of respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement.