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

Posted Mar 16, 2012
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Scholastic Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have 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 seeingfewer students prepared for challenging workthan when they began teaching in their current schools. 56% are seeingmore students living in poverty, and 49% are seeingmore students coming to school hungry.
  • Teachers welcome and are eager for more frequent evaluation of their practicefrom 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 thatconsideration for receivingtenure 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 achievementwith 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 eithervery satisfied (42%) or satisfied (47%) in their jobsand only16% 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.

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 

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.

Primary Sources: America's Teachers on the Teaching Profession is the continuation of an ongoing dialogue with America's teachers. To download the full report and answer a subset of the survey questions, please visit

Source: Scholastic,

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