40,000 Teachers Give Their Views on Education Reform in "Primary Sources: America's Teachers on America's Schools" | Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Teachers call for engaging curriculum, supportive leadership, clear standards common across states in survey by Scholastic Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
NEW YORK -- Scholastic Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today released Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools, a landmark report presenting the results of a national survey of more than 40,000 public school teachers in grades pre-K to 12. The survey reveals that, while teachers have high expectations for their students, they overwhelmingly agree that too many students are leaving unprepared for success beyond high school. Primary Sources reveals teachers’ thoughtful, nuanced views on issues at the heart of education reform – from performance pay and standardized tests to academic standards and teacher evaluation. Teacher responses reveal five powerful solutions to raise student achievement.
“Teachers are a critical part of preparing our children for the future, and their voices are an essential addition to the national debate on education,” said Margery Mayer, Executive Vice President and President, Scholastic Education. “At Scholastic, we work daily with teachers and we know that they have powerful ideas on how best to tackle the challenges facing our schools. Since teachers are the frontline of delivering education in the classroom, the reform movement will not succeed without their active support. Primary Sources is a step in ensuring that teachers’ voices are a part of this important conversation.”
Due to the size and scope of the study, Primary Sources, which was conducted by Harris Interactive, allows for analysis of teachers’ views by grade taught, urbanicity, income-level, years of experience and more. The report also provides an in-depth look at state-by-state data, revealing significant differences in teacher views from one state to another.
“Primary Sources tells us that teachers see a need for stronger curriculum that relates to the real world, clear academic standards from grade to grade and reliable data on student learning,” said Vicki L. Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “The survey tells us that what’s good for students and student achievement is good for teachers too—in fact, it’s what they want.”
The survey, which was conducted by phone and on the web from mid-March to mid-June 2009, identifies five solutions to address the challenges facing schools today and to help ensure that all students achieve at their highest levels:
Within these solution areas, the survey findings debunk several commonly held myths about teachers’ views. The survey found that:
- Establish Clear Standards, Common Across States
- Use Multiple Measures to Evaluate Student Performance
- Innovate to Reach Today’s Students
- Accurately Measure Teacher Performance and Provide Non-Monetary Rewards
- Bridge School & Home to Raise Student Achievement
The importance of bringing teacher voices to conversations around education reform was underscored in the most recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher in which two-thirds of teachers said they felt teachers were not adequately heard in the debate on education.
- While higher salaries are important, teachers say they are less important than a supportive leader. Fewer than half of teachers (45%) say higher salaries are absolutely essential for retaining good teachers. More teachers say it is absolutely essential to have supportive leadership (68%), time to collaborate (54%), and quality curriculum (49%).
- Teachers aren’t opposed to standardized tests as one way to measure student performance. More than 80 percent of teachers say district-required tests are at least a somewhat important measure of student performance (84%). Overall, teachers value multiple measures, including formative assessments, performance on class assignments and class participation along with standardized tests.
- Tenure doesn’t make a good teacher. Only 10 percent of teachers say that tenure is a very accurate measure of teacher performance while 42 percent say it is not at all accurate. Student engagement and year over year progress of students are by far viewed as the most accurate indicators of teacher performance measures (60% and 55%, respectively, rate as very accurate) but are not frequently used to evaluate teachers.
- Textbooks aren’t the answer. Only 12 percent of teachers say traditional textbooks help improve student academic achievement and a mere 6 percent say textbooks engage students in learning. Teachers overwhelmingly say (81%) that up-to-date information-based technology is very important or absolutely essential to improve student achievement.
- A teacher’s job doesn’t end at 3 p.m. Seven in ten teachers attend their students’ after school and weekend events. More than half (51%) of elementary school teachers are willing to have parent teacher conferences at students’ homes – indicating their understanding of time-strapped parents and their belief in the importance of helping every child have a strong home-school connection.
Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools is the beginning of an ongoing dialogue with America’s teachers. To download the full report and view a presentation of the findings, please visit www.scholastic.com/primarysources.
Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools was conducted by telephone and online methods within the United States between March 10 to June 18, 2009 among 40,490 preK-12 public school classroom teachers. Figures were weighted where necessary for gender, years of teaching experience, school level, region and urbanicity to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for any attitudinal/behavioral biases inherent in the sample of those who responded in each mode (telephone or online).
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, film, videos and toys. The Company distributes its products and services through a variety of channels, including proprietary school-based book clubs and school-based book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, television networks and the Company’s Internet Site, www.scholastic.com.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries and serves clients in over 215 countries and territories. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.