Poll Finds Wide Support for Offering College Credit in High School

August 21, 2008

Nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe students should be allowed to earn college credit while still in high school, according to poll results being released today by Phi Delta Kappa International, an association of educators.

The survey, which was conducted by Phi Delta Kappa and the Gallup polling organization, also found that about six in 10 Americans agreed with the assertion that the senior year of high school is not academically productive for many students. When those who held such a view were asked to pick from a list of possible solutions to the problem, they were much more likely to favor letting high-school students take college-level classes than they were to say such students should be encouraged to graduate early or offered unpaid internships or opportunities to perform community service.

The poll respondents were fairly evenly split on whether high-school diplomas should be awarded for completing four years of high school or, instead, given to students who pass proficiency tests showing they had mastered academic skills.

About nine out of 10 respondents favored offering more federal or state financial aid to capable students who cannot afford college. They were less supportive, however, of school-district requirements that all high-school students complete a curriculum preparing them for a four-year college. Just over half said they would favor such a requirement in their own community, reflecting a slight decline in support for such requirements since Phi Delta Kappa and Gallup asked people about them two years ago.

The poll’s findings were based on 1,002 telephone interviews of adults conducted from mid-June to early July. The researchers said their results had a margin of error of three percentage points on questions asked of all respondents, and larger margins of error on questions asked of only of a subset. —Peter Schmidt