Primary Sources: 2012 America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession

Ever wonder what teachers think about issues such as student and teacher performance and how teachers should be evaluated, rewarded, and supported? A recent report from Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Primary Sources: 2012 America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, attempts to answer those questions and more. Over 10,000 teachers responded to online survey aimed at identifying the supports and tools that directly impact student achievement, the way teacher’s benchmark their success, and the tools necessary to retain good teachers.

The results can be summed up into four beliefs:

  • Raising student achievement requires the work of many. Teachers know that they are the single most important factor in raising student achievement, 99 percent of teachers responded saying that “effective and engaged” teachers are absolutely essential. Teachers also identified the importance of setting the bar high and creating high expectations for all students as an essential component to moving the achievement needle- 71 percent of teachers said that “high expectations for all students” make a very strong impact. Family involvement and effective school leaders also ranked significantly high as having an impact on student achievement.
  • Teaching and learning are too complex to be measured by one test. Teachers understand and value the importance of measuring student achievement but clearly stated that standardized test are not the best tool to do so- only 26 percent of teachers believe that standardized tests are an accurate reflection of student achievement. Teachers also recognize the need to measure their performance in the classroom, but are cautious of using standardized tests as a single indicator of their success. Instead they believe that they should be evaluated through a variety of methods including student growth measurements and parent and peer reviews.
  • Challenges facing America’s schools are significant and growing. Teachers reported that more students are struggling academically and socially. While 82 percent of teachers said that the goal of K-12 was for students to graduate college- and career-ready, only 63 percent believe that their current students would leave high school prepared for college. Teachers are also seeing a rise in the number of behavioral, poverty, and hunger challenges among students.
  • School and community supports are essential to keeping good-teachers in the classroom. Much like the factors important for raising student achievement, teachers believe that supportive school leaders, engaged parents, and a quality curriculum are key to retaining good teachers. Other factors such as a collaborative work environment and support staff were reported as important as well.

While teachers are facing more and more challenges in the classroom they are still content with their chosen profession, with over 80 percent reporting they are satisfied with their jobs.

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