The Chalkboard Project: Public Attitudes Toward K-12 Education in Oregon, 2004


Davis, Hibbitts and Midghall, Inc. (DHM) is pleased to present the following description of the opinion research methodology used for the Chalkboard Project (Chalkboard). The research was conducted to assist with development of an overall strategy for addressing public education quality, accountability, and financing in Oregon.

The research had two components:

· Quantitative Research: Statewide telephone and online survey research to quantify Oregonians’ opinions about K-12 public education, including their feelings about proposals to address problems related to education quality, accountability, and finance. Statewide Telephone Baseline Survey: This quantitative research involved a statewide telephone survey of Oregon’s general population age 18+ conducted between April 17 -25, 2004. The sample size was 1800. A stratified (rather than proportional) sample was used for the survey to better understand attitudes in different areas of the state. Three hundred respondents were selected from each of six regions of the state: Portland Metro, Coastal, Willamette Valley, Southern, Central, and Eastern. Statewide Online Initiative Testing: An online survey was completed by 800 Oregonians to learn how they felt about Chalkboard’s initiatives. Final results for the online survey were statistically weighted to account for any variations and to assure a valid sample. Statewide Online Parent Survey: Three surveys were developed to learn how parents felt about the issue of parental involvement. Versions of the questionnaires were developed for households with children age 5-10, 11-14, and 15-18. Respondents came from the panel referred to above and 200 households with a child in the appropriate age range completed each survey.

Qualitative Research: Focus group discussions and one-on-one interviews to learn more about the attitudes of Oregonians and representatives of stakeholder groups (e.g, teachers, principals, and parents) toward public education and a significant statewide civic engagement process, which reached out and heard from Oregonians in all 36 counties. We used different types of data collection exercises in the focus groups. Examples include role playing, free associations, linear mapping, guided fantasy, and sentence completion. Each of these proved valuable in bringing out different ideas, elaborating on expressed attitudes and reported behavior, and probing for underlying motivations. In addition, in most of the group discussions, participants completed at least one written questionnaire to help identify quantitative boundaries and changes in opinion during the course of the group meeting. Various focus groups were composed of school board members, students, teachers, parents, principals, statewide focus groups, as well as two groups composed of special needs students and their parents.

The research provided valuable insight into student achievement assessments, general problems with the K-12 education system, best practices, and roles for Chalkboard, Teachers, Principals, and Parents.

Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc. (DHM) surveyed 1,800 Oregonians statewide for the Chalkboard Project. Respondents were split into sub-groups representing 6 regions of the state, including Eastern Oregon, Central Oregon, Southern Oregon, Willamette Valley, Coastal Oregon and Portland Metro. (Survey was a general public sampling.) The telephone interviews were conducted April 17-25, 2004 and the margin-of-error for the survey is +/- 2.3%. Respondents were asked about their attitudes, values, and beliefs regarding K-12 education. Chalkboard will consider this information as part of an overall strategy for addressing public education quality, accountability, and financing in Oregon.