Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Primary Sources

Today, the Gates Foundation, partnering with Scholastic, released the results of a survey of 40,000 American teachers. You can read the press release (and find links to the main report) here.

There were several interesting results. For instance, more teachers thought that supportive leadership, time to collaborate, and quality curriculum were important for retention than thought that higher salaries were essential. About half of elementary school teachers said they'd be willing to have parent-teacher conferences in kids' homes. Teachers endorsed the idea of clear standards, common across the states. And perhaps most interestingly, only 10% of teachers said that tenure was a good measure of teacher performance. Some 42% said it wasn't a good measure at all. This suggests a potential difference in belief between rank-and-file teachers, and teacher union leadership (since years of service and graduate degrees tend to be the most commonly allowed standards for differences in pay).

In recent years, the Gates Foundation has moved on from its initial Small Schools programs (which turned out not to work that well) to focusing on teacher quality. This report is a first step in figuring out what teachers think, in order to enlist their support in future reforms.

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