Story Highlights

  • One in six college graduates found career services "very helpful"
  • Associate degree holders are satisfied with the cost of their degree
  • Students, parents disagree with teachers about time spent on testing

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup and its partners conducted many studies in 2016 about key topics in K-12 and higher education. The findings from these surveys have helped leaders better understand educational outcomes and how to improve the student experience. The following list features Gallup editors' picks of some of the most important education research in 2016.

  • One in Six U.S. Grads Say Career Services Was Very Helpful: In its third year, the Gallup-Purdue Index surveyed college alumni about their experiences with their career services offices. About half of college graduates say they visited their career services office at least once as a student, but just 16% of those who visited say they found it "very helpful."

  • Two-Year Grads Satisfied With Cost of Degree: With higher education costs soaring, associate degrees have become more appealing to many students. In a report produced in partnership with USA Funds, Gallup found that associate degree holders are just as likely as bachelor's degree holders to report that their education was worth the cost. However, associate degree holders lag behind bachelor's degree holders in key areas of well-being -- especially financial well-being.

  • Customer Excellence: A Goal for Universities: Universities may want to consider how well they are serving their most important customers: their students. Data from the Gallup-Purdue Index show that key "emotional support" and "experiential learning" experiences are linked to higher well-being and engagement at work later in life. But a quarter of all graduates strongly disagree that they had any of these crucial experiences while in college.

  • The Race to Become the Best State for Babies: Childhood development experts recognize the crucial importance of high-quality care and education in a child's early years. Gallup and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute partnered at the University of Nebraska to conduct one of the largest and most comprehensive statewide surveys of early childcare and education. The survey found that only 1% of adults living in Nebraska believe all children from birth to age 5 in the state receive high-quality early care and education, despite 69% identifying these services as a very important investment for the state.

  • Testing That Benefits Students: Opposition to standardized testing has sprung up across the country in recent years. A study by Gallup and the Northwest Evaluation Association found some sharp differences in perceptions of testing among key groups. Three-quarters of students in fifth through 12th grade and more than half of their parents (52%) say that students spend "the right amount of time" or "too little time" taking assessments. By contrast, more than seven in 10 teachers, principals and superintendents believe students spend "too much time" taking assessments.

  • Former Student-Athletes Are Winners in Well-Being: A report based on data from the Gallup-Purdue Index found that many former NCAA student-athletes go on to lead fulfilling lives after college. In fact, they are more likely than non-student-athletes to be thriving in four out of five elements of well-being that Gallup measures -- purpose, social, community and physical well-being -- and just as likely as non-student-athletes are to be thriving in financial well-being.

  • Solid Data Drive President's Computer Science Initiative: A report by Google and Gallup found that while nine in 10 parents say offering opportunities to learn computer science is a good use of resources at their child's school, 58% of students in seventh through 12th grade say their school offers classes dedicated to computer science. This finding underscores the importance of President Barack Obama's recent initiative to devote funds to expand computer science education in public schools.

Read more 2016 findings from Gallup's surveys about K-12 education and higher education.

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