Survey Shows What Teachers Need to Help Kids Succeed

Results from a new survey from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Scholastic shows that our children and our nation benefit when we listen to teachers' insights and observations, and focus on what works in the classroom, because they are one and the same, AFT president Randi Weingarten says.

Primary Sources: America's Teachers on the Teaching Profession "is a treasure trove of valuable insights and observations by teachers who spend every day with our nation's children," Weingarten says.

Among the findings:

  • 98 percent of teachers say that parent involvement and support is essential to helping children succeed in the classroom;
  • 96 percent of teachers believe we should have high expectations for all students;
  • 91 percent of teachers say that effective and engaged principals play a crucial role in student achievement;
  • 90 percent of teachers say that smaller class sizes would help student achievement;
  • On average, teachers spend nearly 11 hours each day working inside and outside the classroom; and
  • Just 26 percent of teachers say that standardized tests are an accurate reflection of student achievement.

The survey also includes important responses on how teachers feel about their jobs and retaining good teachers. An overwhelming 98 percent say that higher salaries are essential or important in retaining good teachers. But only 16 percent say that performance pay would help keep good teachers in the classroom.

"Teachers also affirm that fair and meaningful tenure provisions and seniority should have an important place in education," Weingarten says. "Eighty-four percent believe that tenure is important to protect teachers from unfairly losing their jobs. As they always have, teachers believe that tenure should reflect teacher effectiveness, and they don't want administrators to use tenure as an excuse not to address teachers who should not be in the classroom.

"Teachers want their work valued and respected, and they need tools and support to help children learn and grow in a 21st-century economy. Policymakers need to start listening to them, not bashing them and devaluing their work."