What 10,000 teachers think

Scholastic and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have just released a survey of nearly 10,000 public school teachers titled "Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession". Teachers were asked about their schools and classrooms, about student and teacher performance and about the ways it should be evaluated, supported and rewarded. They shared their honest, professional opinions on everything from the role of standardized tests to teacher tenure, from family involvement to job satisfaction, from digital content to salaries.

In this survey, teachers told us:
  • Raising Student Achievement Requires the Work Of Many

    – Teachers agree that their primary goal is helping all students learn and achieve, but a hardworking, committed teacher cannot do it alone.

    – Other factors that teachers identify as essential to raising student achievement include: family involvement, quality curriculum, and a community of educators and school leaders committed to the success of all students.

  • Teaching and Learning Are Too Complex to Be Measured by One Test

    – Teachers are clear in their call for multiple measures of student achievement, and they say that standardized tests do not accurately reflect their students’ growth. In fact, we were surprised to learn that only 45% of teachers say their students take such tests seriously. – They also call for more frequent evaluation of their own practice from a variety of sources, including in-class observation, assessment of student work, and performance reviews from principals, peers and even students.

    – Teachers are open to tenure reform, including regular reevaluation of tenured teachers and requiring more years of experience before tenure is granted. On average, teachers say that tenure should be granted after 5.4 years of teaching, more than the typical two to three years in most states today.

  • Challenges Facing America’s Schools Are Significant and Growing

    Teachers are concerned about their students’ academic preparedness. They tell us that, on average, only 63% of their students could leave high school prepared to succeed in college.

    When we asked veteran teachers to identify what is changing in their classrooms, they told us:

    – Academic challenges are growing. Veteran teachers see more students struggling with reading and math today than they did when they began teaching in their current schools.

    – Populations of students who require special in-school services are growing as well. Veteran teachers report increasing numbers of students living in poverty, students who are hungry and homeless, and students who have behavioral issues.

  • School and Community Supports Are Essential to Keeping Good Teachers in the Classroom

    When asked to identify the factors that most impact teacher retention, teachers agree that monetary rewards like higher salaries or merit pay are less important than other factors

    – though some of these factors require additional funding – including strong school leaders, family involvement, high-quality curriculum and resources, and in-school support personnel.

Here are some of the interesting highlights from the survey, but be sure to check it all out yourself below.

Teachers work long hours

Teachers work, on average 53 hours a week, or 10 hours and 40 minutes a day.

Of the time during the required school day, here is how teachers reported it being spent

The survey has lots of information, including how teachers like to and would prefer not to, spend their time.

Classroom Issues

The graph below shows how teachers feel about class sizes (hint: they think it is very important)

And what do teachers think impact student achievement? (this one's a bit harder to read, but you can see it in large size in the document below). Common core appears at the bottom, family involvement at the top

On student assessments, teachers are in serious disagreement with current reform trends that lean heavily on standardized testing to measure student achievement.

Contentious Issues

Moving on to more contentious issues, reformers should take note - teachers could be your allies if you ever decide to collaborate. Higher salaries are viewed poisitively, but pay for performance is not seen as an important or driving force

But higher salaries fall well down the list of important issues for improving teacher retention. Parental involvement and quality leadership top the list

Finally, on tenure. Teachers do not think tenure ought to be automatic, or bad teachers protected by it. There should be a lot of opportunity for reformers and educators to collaborate in this area.


New Poll shows high support for SB5 opponents

A new poll recently conducted by Fallon Research & Communications, Inc. shows that labor opponents of SB5 are regarded highly by the electorate.

Unions that represent police officers and firefighters are the most popular in the survey, with an overall favorable rating of 70% and an unfavorable rating of just 22%, while the remaining 8% have mixed opinions or were unsure.
Among the specific types of unions tested in the survey, results for teachers’ unions provided the most intriguing insights. Overall, 56% of Ohio voters surveyed said they have favorable views of teachers’ unions, which is 8% higher than the favorable rating for general views of unions, and 34% said they have unfavorable opinions, which is 5% lower than the unfavorable rating for general views of unions. The remaining 10% have mixed opinions or were unsure. Teachers’ unions are most popular with 18 to 29 year-olds (71%), African-Americans (92%), union households (79%) and Democrats (74%). Teachers’ unions are least popular with non-union households (43% unfavorable) and Republicans (61%). Impressively, 57% of unaffiliated voters view teachers’ unions favorably, while just 31% view them unfavorably, which indicates high standing and, presumably, credibility with this vital segment of the electorate that is frequently the deciding factor in many local levy campaigns.

The full survey can be read below

Ohio Survey Results

The Reckless Budget, story after story

When we talk about the reckless budget proposal and its impact on public education it can be hard to visualize what billions, or even millions of dollars of cuts really mean. We republished documents Innovation Ohio obtained from the administration that show what the funding levels would likely be for individual school districts, but this doesn't truly capture the full scale of the problem.

As we collate our clips each morning here at JTF, we are starting to notice a distrubing but very regular pattern. Newspaper article after article detailing school funding problems. We want to start bringing these to your attention as a means to highlight just how drastic and reckless this budget is for public education, the students and our communities.

Please send us links to articles in your local paper that discuss school funding issues. You can send them to admin@jointhefuture.org.