State by State

The results from the Scholastic Primary Sources survey that I found the most interesting were the state-by-state data. I clicked on over to the Illinois data, so that I could see how teachers in my home state responded.

One of the most astonishing statistics occurred in Domain 3: Teachers on Evaluations. In Illinois, 93% of teachers report receiving an evaluation at least once every few years. While only 54% of teachers state they are evaluated every year.  I found that in Texas 100% of teachers report receiving an evaluation at least one every few years, while 87% of teachers are evaluated yearly. Texas is doing much better than Illinois in the teacher evaluation system!

I find the teacher evaluation data the most intriguing because it was just last school year in which Chicago Public School teachers carried out a strike and one of the reasons was over teacher evaluations. Clearly, that point doesn’t really matter. Evaluations aren’t even being carried out for nearly half the teachers (46%) in the state every year!

Evaluations, in my opinion, should occur EVERY year. As a teacher, this is not something I can control. It is up to the administrators to carry out these evaluations.

Come on, Illinois. Get it together.

Market Watch article

In researching the Scholastic primary sources information, I came across this succinct article from a site called Market Watch, a stock market tracking site.
The article provides a good summary of the data reported by the Scholastic Primary Sources information.
I would suggest you check out the article as it does give a nice overview of the information you will find in the research.

Leave a comment or tweet me @barry_christine

Click here for the article.

Past Survey Results for Reflection

Just to compare teacher’s views from the past- where have we come from, where are we now and where are we going?

This is a past summary of the Primary Sources Report in 2012~

10,000 Teachers Share Views on the Teaching Profession in  “Primary Sources” Report

Posted March 16th, 2012 by rthomas
  •  The average teacher workday is 10 Hours, 40 Minutes; 89% of teachers are satisfied in their jobs.   Teachers speak on testing, family engagement, and increased poverty in schools in survey by Scholastic & the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

New York — March 16, 2012 — Scholastic Inc. (NASDAQ: SCHL) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today released Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession, the second landmark report presenting the results of a national survey of more than 10,000 public school teachers in grades pre-K to 12. The survey is a follow-up to the original Primary Sources report released in 2010, which continues to be noted as the largest-ever national survey of America’s teachers.

The 2012 Primary Sources report reveals teachers’ thoughtful, nuanced views on both their daily practice and critical issues at the heart of education reform – from teacher evaluations to quality curriculum, from the Common Core State Standards to standardized tests, from family engagement to strong school leaders, from the changing face of their classrooms to teacher tenure and salaries, from job satisfaction to future career plans.

Key findings reveal:

  • Challenges facing students are significant and growing: 46% of veteran teachers say they are seeing fewer students prepared for challenging work than when they began teaching in their current schools. 56% are seeing more students living in poverty, and 49% are seeing more students coming to school hungry.
  • Teachers welcome and are eager for more frequent evaluation of their practice from school leaders, peers and even students.  Plus, they welcome feedback from a variety of sources.
  • Teachers are open to tenure reform: Eighty percent of teachers agree that tenure should be regularly reevaluated, and on average, teachers say that consideration for receiving tenure should happen after 5.4 years of teaching.
  • Teachers work an average of 10 hours, 40 minutes per workday, three hours and 20 minutes longer than the average required teacher workday nationwide.
  • Standardized tests do not reflect student skill: Only 45% of teachers say their students take these tests seriously and perform on them to the best of their ability.
  • Family involvement is the highest ranked factor for improving student achievement with 98% of teachers in agreement that it has a strong or very strong impact on student academic success.   At the same time, 47% of veteran teachers report lower parental participation in their schools.
  • The majority of teachers are satisfied in their jobs: Eighty nine percent of teachers are either very satisfied (42%) or satisfied (47%) in their jobs and only 16% of teachers plan on leaving teaching. MetLife Foundation’s recent survey of 1,000 teachers had similar findings, however, their tracking data indicates that the percentage of “very satisfied” is lower than in previous years.

“This year’s Primary Sources report clearly reflects what it means to teach in America’s schools in 2012,” says Cathlyn Dossetti, Teacher Advisor to Primary Sources and High School English teacher, Fresno High School, Fresno, CA.  “It shows the mix of idealism and real concern that teachers feel on a daily basis as we face both the professional challenges and remarkable opportunities inherent in our careers.”

The survey, which was conducted online in July 2011 by research firm Harrison Group takes a deep dive into the classroom and teaching profession in four key areas:

  1. ) Raising Student Achievement
  2. ) Measuring Learning  and Teaching
  3. ) Tackling Challenges Facing America’s Students
  4. ) Keeping Good Teachers in the Classroom

Primary Sources tells us teachers are clamoring for resources to help prepare their students to meet the Common Core State Standards. They want stronger curricula that relate to the real world, and they welcome accountability that’s done thoughtfully and fairly,” said Vicki L. Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “When it comes to evaluations, teachers know what’s good for students is good for them too-multiple measures of their performance and consistent feedback to help them improve.”

Due to the size and scope of the study, Primary Sources allows for analysis of teachers’ views by grade taught, geography, income-level, years of experience and more. In addition, the questionnaire tracked teachers’ answers to several questions from the original Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s Schools.

“Teachers know best what works in real classrooms to raise student achievement, so when we look for honest opinions on the state of America’s schools, we go to them,” said Margery Mayer, President of 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. Primary Sources helps to ensure that those ideas become part of the conversation on teaching and learning.”

Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on the Teaching Profession is the continuation of an ongoing dialogue with America’s teachers.

More Than a Profession

The first item on the Scholastic Primary Sources Teacher Survey states that 98% of teachers feel that teaching is more than just a profession–it is a calling. I must agree with this statement. To be a teacher requires more than just showing up for a 9 to 5 office job. (Not that there’s anything wrong with those office jobs!) But teachers must be dedicated to their calling and passion because it requires so much of ourselves.

Teaching requires our time. We spend 8:00-3:00 in the classroom with our students. But we also spend mornings before school in meetings, lesson preparation, and grading time. We spend time after school on those some tasks, plus supervision of clubs, activities, and sports. We spend nights, weekends, and summer planning lessons, writing curriculum, grading papers, and attending professional development. All this time outside of the 8:00-3:00 is UNPAID time. We spend these hours to make our classrooms better places for our students to learn and grow.

Teaching requires our hearts. We invest a lot of time in our “kids” as most teachers call their students. We not only teach our students the required content, but we also prepare them for life. We help them navigate life’s problems and listen to their troubles and worries. We rejoice when they get accepted to the high schools and colleges of their choice. We grieve with them over their failures. We worry about our kids who traverse tough neighborhoods to get to school or who go hungry over the weekends.

Teaching is not just a job. It is a way of life. Teaching is a calling to serve our nation’s youth. The few who answer that call are the privileged ones who get to serve our students.

The Unheard Voice

While many teachers are skeptical of the involvement of Bill and Melinda Gates in the education world because of their push for charter schools, their recent survey conducted on real teachers with honest viewpoints is much appreciated in the education world. Over the next month, I’ll look at some different aspects of their survey.

Today, I want to applaud the Gates Foundation for actually surveying teachers on the state of education. Too often, teachers are left out of the educational policy talks, the common core development, the debates over what education should look like in the 21st century. Instead, we turn to policy heads, business leaders, and government officials who have never stepped foot in a classroom to decide on educational policy, learning standards, and teacher effectiveness. For too long, our nation’s teachers have been silenced from these discussions. I am glad to see that we are allowing teachers to enter these debates and voice their opinions. The teachers are the ones for whom these policy teachers affect and these teachers’ students are the ones who will benefit or not from the implementation of these policies. We must allow teachers to have a bigger voice outside of their classrooms.

“How Does This Help My Education?”

recorder education

Somebody posted this on Facebook the other day, and knee-jerk-ish, I had to answer (somewhat paraphrased):

“Learn to read music. You never meet a dumb musician. I don’t necessarily mean garage bands, but reading music, playing in ensembles. Reading music makes you smart.

Of course, someone had to call names: they called me a snob. However, my point would be just the opposite. I wish that every student could learn to read music. It brings to mind that wonderful free afterschool music program in New York, Los Angeles, and hopefully other places: Harmony. Students receive free instruction and use of instruments to learn music. Watch how some of the NY students respond to a concert they played in, conduced by Placido Domingo. This program is based on the famed El Sistema program in Venezuela.

Students in these programs say they are doing much better in schoolwork since playing an instrument. They come to life, they say, after school is done and they are able to go make music.

As an English teacher and artist, I finally came to music later in life when I learned to play the recorder. Now I play well enough to confidently join in ensemble playing in various recorder ensembles. It’s so much fun playing together! It also takes super concentration, counting madly, focusing consistently, and being able to track with the eyes and with the mind.

Oh, are these intellectual skills? Might they not help with one’s education?