Date of this Version
Nebraska Rural Poll: A Research Report, no. 16 (September 3, 2016). Also available at http://ruralpoll.unl.edu.
Most rural Nebraskans have elementary, middle and high schools in their community or nearest community. Most of the schools available are public but many rural Nebraskans report having both public and private schools of each grade level. Persons living in or near larger communities are more likely than persons living in or near smaller communities to have each level of school in their community. And, persons living in or near the larger communities are more likely than persons living in or near smaller communities to have both public and private schools available.
When asked about priorities for their local school, rural Nebraskans give highest priority to providing a safe environment for students. Other top priorities for local schools include: high graduation rate, high quality teachers, teaching problem solving or critical thinking skills to students and preparing students for college. The items that respondents were least likely to rate as high priority include teaching foreign languages, providing community social events/local entertainment, and teaching English as a second language.
At least four in ten rural Nebraskans are very satisfied with the following characteristics at their local school: safe environment for students, graduation rate, quality school buildings, and opportunities for physical activities/sports. Less than two in ten respondents are very satisfied with standardized test scores and teaching English as a second language. However, many rural Nebraskans are unsure how to assess the details of their local schools since at least two in ten answered don’t know when asked to rate the characteristics. In fact, four in ten answered don’t know in regards to providing courses for advanced placement and standardized test scores. And, over one-half answered don’t know when asked to rate their satisfaction with teaching English as a second language.
Satisfaction levels with many characteristics differ by community size. Persons living in or near smaller communities are more likely than persons living in or near larger communities to be very satisfied with many of the characteristics at their local school. However, satisfaction levels with four items increase as community size increases: providing courses for college credit, providing advanced placement courses, teaching foreign languages, and teaching English as a second language.
Regional differences also exist. For many of the items listed, residents of the Panhandle were the regional group least likely to report being very satisfied. However, even though the Panhandle residents are less likely to report being very satisfied with many of the items listed, it does not mean they are necessarily more dissatisfied with those items than the other groups. For many of the items, the Panhandle residents were more likely to answer “don’t know.”
The differences between the characteristics that people expect from their local school and those with which they are very satisfied are rather large. For almost all of the characteristics listed, the proportions that feel each is a high priority are larger than the proportions very satisfied with each.
For many of the characteristics, the differences between the proportions viewing the characteristics as high priorities and the proportions very satisfied with each are larger for persons living in or near larger communities as compared to persons living in or near smaller communities. For a few items, the gaps are somewhat larger for persons living in or near smaller communities: providing courses for college credit, preparing students for technical/trade school, and providing advanced placement courses.