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Life in Hampton Roads Survey No. 3: Health and Schools

In this part of the 10th annual Life in Hampton Roads survey, which was conducted by Old Dominion University's Social Science Research Center, residents were asked about their health and related issues and their perceptions of public schools.

Health and Related Issues

General Health

Fewer than one in four (23.5%) of Hampton Roads residents rated their general health as excellent. The majority of the respondents reported themselves to be in good health (52.7%), while 19.9% stated that they are in fair health. Only 3.7% reported having poor health. These percentages are similar to past Life in Hampton Roads survey results.

There were significant differences in residents' reported overall health across the cities of Hampton Roads. Chesapeake and Virginia Beach residents reported the highest ratings of overall health with 82.1% and 79.6% reporting good or excellent health, respectively. Alternatively, Portsmouth (67.8%) and Newport News (67.4%) had the lowest percentages of residents who rated their overall health excellent or good.

Chronic Conditions

Respondents were asked whether a doctor had told them they had certain medical conditions within the past three years. The most commonly reported condition was high blood pressure or hypertension (22.3%). After that, there was a substantial drop off with only 10.6% of respondents saying they had been told they had diabetes and 5.7% being told they had some other condition. The majority of respondents (59.6%) reported that a doctor had not told them they had any of the listed medical conditions - heart disease, COPD, diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma or cancer - within the past three years.

Perceptions of Public Schools

We asked if parents chose public school, private school or home schooling for their children. Most (67.4%) respondents did not have school-aged children. More than one-quarter of respondents indicated that they have children enrolled in public school (28.0%). Only 4.5% of said they have children enrolled in private school. Home school was the least frequent type of school reported at 1.2%.

We asked respondents without school-aged children how they rated their local public-school system. Just under half (49.1%) said excellent (12.8%) or good (36.3%), while others rated the school system as fair (26.0%) or poor (15.1%).

It is worth noting that parents with school children were significantly more likely to rate the public schools in their area as excellent or good than those without school children. While the majority (59.2%) of those respondents rated the public school system as excellent (22.5%) or good (46.8%), less than one-third rated the school system as fair (20.0%) or poor (9.1%).

There were significant differences in ratings from parents who have children attending public schools by city. Chesapeake had the highest percentage of residents rating the systems as excellent or good (87.2%), followed by Virginia Beach (83.2%) and Suffolk (68.0%). At the other end of the spectrum, Hampton (43.0%) and Portsmouth (42.2%) had the lowest percentage of residents ranking the systems as excellent or good.

Respondents who had children attending public schools were asked to identify what local public schools could do better to serve them and their families. While 14.1% said nothing needs to be done better and 12.1% said they did not know, the majority of respondents gave at least one example of things that could be done better. Frequent comments included communication with the parents (some reported feeling uninformed on topics such as homework). Another topic mentioned was classroom size. Parents felt they were too large, and that students were not getting enough one-on-one time. Additionally, some respondents claimed that schools need improved resources. Most did not expand on what was meant by "resources," though funding was mentioned by a few. Lastly, safety was a concern for some parents.

The Life in Hampton Roads Data report and press releases will be placed on the Social Science Research Center website as they are released (http://www.odu.edu/al/centers/ssrc). Follow-up questions about the 2019 Life in Hampton Roads survey should be addressed to:

Tancy Vandecar-Burdin, PhD


The Social Science Research Center

Old Dominion University

757-683-3802 (office)


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