Nine in 10 teachers say that not all of their students could leave high school prepared to succeed in college. When asked to choose the one out of five possible reasons why, teachers across all grade levels are fairly evenly dispersed across three core components needed for success, which include both in-school and out-of-school elements:
· Academic instruction - promoting critical thinking, problem solving, reading and communication skills and coursework designed to prepare students for college;
· A social support system - including family and friends - that values and promotes learning; and
· Student motivation - a factor that teachers embrace as their responsibility and attempt to address at all teaching levels.
Within these solution areas, the survey findings debunk several commonly held myths about teachers' views. The survey found that:
· 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.
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.
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.