Don’t Show Me the Money?

A recent large-scale survey funded in part by the Gates Foundation and Scholastic Inc. suggests that teachers “value non-monetary rewards, such as time to collaborate with other teachers and a supportive school leadership, over higher salaries.”

Called “Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on America’s School,” the  purpose of the survey was to keep teachers’ voices in the debate over education reform, said Vicki L. Phillips, director of Gates Foundation’s K-12 education program. “If you’re the heart and soul of this profession, you ought to have some say in it.”

Some interesting highlights:

  • Only 28% of teachers felt performance pay would have a strong impact and 30% felt performance pay would have no impact at all.
  • Most teachers said they feel students in their states are doing OK but believe fewer than 75% will graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and work.
  • Teachers don’t want to see their students judged on the results of one test, and they also want their own performances graded on multiple measures.
  • 71% of teachers said one of the most important goals of schools and teaching was to prepare all students for careers in the 21st century, while only 6% said graduating all students with a high school diploma was one of the most important goals.
  • A majority of teachers would like to see tougher academic standards and have them be the same in every state, despite the extra work common  standards could create for them. Fewer were in favor of having common academic tests in every state, which would presumably be based on the common standards, but more than half said common tests were a good idea.
  • The teachers are not opposed to standardized tests. However, instead of yearly tests, they want to see formative, ongoing assessments in class to help them understand how much their students are learning over time.

Overall, the response from teachers was an encouraging blend of acknowledging the difficulty of implementing true, meaningful reform with a loud and clear commitment to rolling up their sleeves and digging in.  I took away the overall message, “There’s hard work to be done… Bring it ON!”

“They are very, very invested in the subject of reform,” said Margery Mayer, president of Scholastic Education Mayer. If you ask a teacher what they think, you’re going to hear what they think.”

So what do YOU think? Do the findings surprise you? As a teacher, what do you feel are the keys to job-satisfaction and thriving schools?

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