The nonpartisan public opinion research firm the Farkas Duffett Research Group conducted the research for this study.

Survey of Idaho General Public

The findings in The People’s Perspective are based on 1,004 interviews conducted by telephone with a randomly-selected representative sample of Idaho adults 18 years old and older in autumn 2016. The survey was preceded by two focus groups with Idahoans. The analysis is the second in a series of multi-year surveys conducted to document the Idaho public’s attitudes about public education. With some key additions, The People’s Perspective in essence repeats last year’s benchmark study, Idaho Ready for Change: What Idahoans Really Think About Education In Idaho.

The Survey

Telephone interviews with a randomly-selected cross-section of Idaho adults (n=1,004) took place between November 10 and December 12, 2016. The average length of an interview was approximately 16.5 minutes. The survey’s margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. The margin of error increases for sub-groups within the sample; for example, the statewide random sample generated 376 completed interviews with parents of children under 18 years old. When the study reports the views of parents – a sub-group of the total sample – the margin of error to take into account is plus or minus 5 percentage points.

To ensure that a random sample of households was interviewed, the study employed a dual-frame landline/cell phone sampling design. Theoretically, this gave every household in Idaho an equal chance of being selected, including those with unlisted landline numbers and no landline (cell phone-only households). According to a recent National Health Statistics Reports, 61.6 percent of Idaho adults live in wireless-only households. For the landline interviews, a standard random-digit-dialing (RDD) technology was used, along with age-targeted landline sample. For the cell phone interviews, dialing began with active random wireless numbers (no age target). Towards the end of the field period both landline and cell samples were targeted by age in order to reach a sufficient number of 18-34 and 35-54 year olds. Statewide Hispanic sample (landline only), which was targeted by surname, was also used to reach a sufficient number of Hispanic/Latino households. A total of 450 interviews were completed on landlines, and 554 on cell phones. Survey data are weighted to population parameters for age to account for over-representation of older adults in the sampling frame.

To minimize non-response bias, interviews were conducted on each day of the week and at different times of the day. If a respondent indicated a better time for the interview, call-backs were made accordingly. Typically, between 3 and 6 attempts were made for each unique telephone number in the sample.

The Questionnaire

As in all surveys, non-sampling sources of error could also have an impact on survey results. The survey instrument used in this study was extensively pre-tested to ensure that the language was accessible and appropriate to members of the general public, including those who may not be familiar with the topic of public schools. Questions were randomized and answer categories rotated in an effort to minimize non-sampling sources of error (order bias). The questionnaire was designed by the FDR Group, and all interpretation of the data reflected in this report was done by the FDR Group.

Sample was obtained from SSI (landline) and Marketing Systems Group (cell). The telephone interviews and data collection were provided by Wiese Research Associates located in Omaha, Nebraska.

The Focus Groups

In October 2016, two focus groups were conducted with members of the general public, one each in the greater Boise area and Pocatello. The focus group participants were carefully recruited to represent the socioeconomic demographics of the respective communities, and they included both men and women, mothers and fathers, people of different races/ethnicities, older and younger, college educated and not. The purpose of the focus group discussions was to gauge understanding of the issues at hand and the energy these issues tap. The groups were also useful in testing and developing the survey instrument.

Focus groups allow for an in-depth, qualitative exploration of the dynamics underlying people’s attitudes towards complex issues. Quotes from the focus groups are used in the report to give voice to attitudes captured statistically through the survey interviews.

Characteristics of the Sample

The following tables compare demographics of the Idaho population with the weighted and unweighted survey samples.

Gender Population Weighted Unweighted
Male: 50% 46% 46%
Female: 50% 54% 54%
Content provided by US Census:
Race/Ethnicity Population Weighted Unweighted
Hispanic: 11% 11% 10%
White: 89% 87% 88%
Content provided by US Census:
Education Population Weighted Unweighted
High school or less: 38% 21% 19%
Some college, 2-year degree: 36% 42% 42%
4-year or Graduate degree: 26% 37% 39%
Age Population Weighted Unweighted
18-34: 31% 31% 26%
35-54: 35% 36% 35%
55-64: 16% 16% 19%
65+: 17% 17% 21%
Urbanicity Population Weighted Unweighted
Urban: 66% 65% 64%
Non-urban: 34% 36% 36%
“Rural Idaho since the Recession,” Idaho at a Glance, August 2015, Vol. 6, No. 2
Region Population Weighted Unweighted
North: 20% 25% 26%
East: 23% 22% 22%
South West: 45% 40% 41%
South Central: 12% 12% 12%
US Census Bureau, 2015 State and County QuickFacts