Alabama residents give their local schools high marks. Percentage in state assigning schools a grade of A or B exceeds national norm.

AUBURN (August 17, 2009) As local schools prepared to reopen across Alabama, Auburn University pollsters found a high degree of satisfaction with their recent performance. When asked to grade local schools in their community, the majority of a statewide sample of 639 residents interviewed in July by telephone assigned high marks: 25 percent gave their local schools a grade of A and another 36 percent gave them a B.

“These grades are extraordinary,” said Dr. Don-Terry Veal, Director of the Center for Governmental Services that conducted the poll. “When the Gallup organization last asked this same question to a nationwide sample, only 46 percent of Americans gave their local schools a grade of A or B. That 61 percent of Alabama residents do so now is a credit to the recent performance of local schools here.”

The positive poll report comes on the heels of an announcement from Alabama officials that 86 percent of the state’s local schools have met goals established by the No Child Left Behind program administered by the U.S. Department of Education.

Not everyone polled was so happy with their local schools, however. Twenty-six percent (26%) gave local schools in their community a grade of C, six percent a D, and three percent dished out a failing grade of F. Nationally, Gallup reports that 16 percent of all Americans give their local schools a grade of D or F.

The Auburn poll analysts found that satisfaction varies across the state, with residents of southeast counties most likely to give their schools grades of A or B (80 percent). Residents of southwest counties were least likely to give those top marks to their schools (49 percent A or B). Rural residents are more satisfied with their schools (67 percent A or B) than are suburban (57 percent) or urban (62 percent) residents C

“Surprisingly, there were few differences in the opinions of older and younger poll respondents, and men were only slightly more positive than women,” said poll center manager Patrick Rose. “We also find that African-Americans are mildly more satisfied with their local schools (65 percent A or B) than are whites (60 percent). Educational attainment also figures into Alabamians’ perceptions of their schools. Among residents with only a high school education, more than two-thirds (67 percent) give local schools an A or B. But just 58 percent of college grads and 59 percent of residents with a graduate degree give A’s or B’s to local schools in their communities.

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