Published 05/16/16

Contact: Jim Taricani / JTaricani@dk-­‐comm.com

Bryant’s Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership Poll Focuses on Education Issues in Rhode Island

May 12, 2016: The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership today released its quarterly survey on key issues facing the State. This poll focusing primarily on education is the fifth public opinion survey the Institute has published since 2014.

When asked to grade the public school system in Rhode Island:

• 7.2% gave it an A,
• 29.8% a B,
• 32.3% a C
• a D
• 6.4% gave an F
• 4.2% said they weren’t sure.

67% said that there is too much emphasis on standardized testing in public schools (25.5% said too little, 7.9% not sure) and voters were almost evenly split on the question of whether the state Department of Education level of oversight over local school districts-­‐ 21.6%-­‐ too much oversight, 26.3% too little, 22. 8% right amount, 29.3% not sure.

Voters were asked to rate several ideas which are currently being discussed to improve the quality of education in public schools. Professional development and expanding programs for students were considered very important:.

  • Improving teacher training and professional development  
    72.5% very important, 19.9% somewhat important/ 6% not very important-­‐not important 
  • Expanding programs for under achieving students  
    66.7% very important, 25.8% somewhat important / 6% not very important or not important at all
  • Higher student and school performance standards  
    57.3% very important, 29.5% somewhat important/ 10% not very important-­‐ not important at all
  • Increase Principal’s authority on what happens at school  
    47.6% very important. 31.3% somewhat important/ 18% not very important-­‐ not important at all

  • Expand School Choice  
    39.5% very important, 25.8% somewhat important/ 18% not very important-­‐ not important at all


A majority -­‐,52.4%, -­‐ favored a constitutional amendment to make education a right realizing there could be added costs.

The poll also asked for voters’ impression on the direction of the state. 31% said right direction, 49.6% said wrong direction, 11% said remained the same, and 7.4% said not sure. When compared with earlier polls that asked the same question, the trend over the past year, shows although there was some movement in believing the state was going in the right direction – that ground has been lost

The poll conducted by Fleming and Associates questioned 403 Rhode Island registered voters (32% on cell phones). The poll was conducted April 30, 2016 thru May 3, 2016. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.9%. The entire poll is attached. About Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership at Bryant University: The Hassenfeld Institute for Public Leadership provides public officials and others involved in the development, management, and execution of public policy with the tools and skills needed to make informed decisions and manage responsive organizations in order to govern and lead public sector and non-­‐profit organizations effectively.

View survey here.