Aug. 1 (New Haven, CT) — Educators for Excellence (E4E), a teacher-led organization, released results today from Voices from the Classroom: A Survey of America’s Educators, a ground-breaking national survey of our country’s public school educators. An oversample of Connecticut teachers were surveyed to enable deeper, city-level analysis.
Designed by teachers, for teachers, the scientific, nationally representative survey captures crucial insight on the views of public school educators across the country on a wide variety of issues impacting students and the profession, including: economic security, teacher leadership, teacher voice beyond the classroom, school safety and discipline, accountability and school choice.
“As a teacher for more than 30 years, I’ve learned we’re the ones who know what’s best for our students,” said Lauren Lieberman, special education teacher at Kennelly K-8 school and member of E4E-Connecticut. “We spend over seven hours a day living and breathing with them, and we know what policies we need to support our kids’ learning.”
“In order to make meaningful change, our teachers must be a part of the conversations that will affect them and their students,” said Justin Boucher, Executive Director of E4E-Connecticut. “Lifting up teacher voices and encouraging them to offer lawmakers a look into their classroom will lead to better outcomes for students and teachers alike.”
- Teachers are very concerned about their economic security, so wages, salaries, benefits and job security are top of mind.
- In Connecticut and nationally, teachers prioritize financial incentives, such as sign-on bonuses, higher starting salaries and loan forgiveness programs, as effective ways to recruit talented and diverse teachers, especially in hard-to-staff schools (32 percent Connecticut, 48 percent national) and hard-to-staff subjects (30 percent Connecticut, 46 percent national).
- Connecticut teachers also prioritize streamlined certification as a way to attract teachers (33 percent Connecticut, 33 percent national).
- Approximately half of Connecticut teachers want to keep the pension system, with 51 percent saying they would prefer pensions and 39 percent saying they would prefer a defined contribution plan, such as a 401-k or 403-b.
- Nationally, teachers are torn in their faith in the traditional pension system, with nearly as many teachers saying they would prefer a defined contribution plan (42 percent), as they would a pension (45 percent).
- And, a substantial majority of Connecticut teachers believe inequitable school funding (85 percent) and resource distribution (84 percent) are problems in their state, as do 84 percent and 81 percent nationally.
- Teachers are seeking more opportunities to lead while staying in the classroom, particularly as they relate to career pathways.
- A staggering 92 percent of both Connecticut teachers and teachers nationally say they wish there were more opportunities to further their careers and professional skills while staying in the classroom.
- Despite this widespread desire, less than a third of Connecticut teachers (31 percent) indicate that they feel supported by their administration to take on leadership roles in their schools, four percentage points lower than the national average.
- Teachers want more opportunity to be heard beyond their classroom and within their unions in order to shape policy at all levels.
- Eighty-eight percent of Connecticut teachers (and 96 percent of teachers nationally) agreed that they wish there were more opportunities as teachers to influence education policy that impacts their profession and students.
- Unfortunately, teachers do not feel their perspective is well represented in policy decisions at the school, union, district or charter network, state or federal levels. The further teachers are from the decision-making body, the less represented they feel, with zero percent of Connecticut teachers saying they see their perspective greatly represented in policy at the state level.
- Teachers are concerned about school safety and want more training to address school violence and improve student behavior using non-punitive strategies.
- More than four in 10 Connecticut teachers (43 percent) report fearing for their own physical safety at least sometimes or often at their school, 12 percentage points above the national average.
- And less than half of Connecticut teachers (48 percent) believe their school does an excellent or good job at training them to address school violence, compared to 54 percent nationally.
- To manage discipline and make schools safer, Connecticut teachers believe restorative practices (74 percent) and positive behavior reinforcement (68 percent) most effective, greatly preferring them to punitive and exclusionary measures, such as out-of school suspensions (32 percent) and expulsions (30 percent).
- Similarly, nationally, teachers see positive behavior reinforcement (74 percent) and restorative practices (64 percent) most effective, preferring them to out-of school suspensions (39 percent) and expulsions (39 percent).
- While the National Rifle Association and President Trump have proposed training teachers to carry guns in schools as a way of making schools more secure, 82 percent of Connecticut teachers oppose this idea, which is 17 percentage points higher than the national average.
- Teachers believe student growth is the single most important factor in evaluating schools’ and teachers’ effectiveness, but are interested in exploring non-traditional metrics.
- To evaluate a school’s effectiveness, teachers prefer students’ academic growth (68 percent Connecticut, 74 national), but they also want measures of school climate and culture, such as disciplinary data (37 percent Connecticut, 41 percent national) to be considered, as well as feedback from students (39 percent Connecticut, 30 percent national).
- In evaluations of their own effectiveness, in addition to students’ academic growth (59 percent Connecticut, 64 national), teachers value classroom observations by administrators (43 percent Connecticut, 35 percent national) and students’ daily work, projects and portfolios (40 percent Connecticut, 45 percent national).
- Teachers are open to school choice options, as long as they do not drain resources from public schools, are equally accessible to all students and provide positive outcomes for low-income students.
- Connecticut teachers have mixed feelings about school choice options:
- 50 percent of Connecticut teachers and 48 percent of teachers nationally support school tax credits for low-income students.
- 33 percent of Connecticut teachers and 28 percent nationally support low-income school vouchers.
- 28 percent of Connecticut teachers and 31 percent of teachers nationally support charter schools.
- 25 percent of Connecticut teachers and 21 percent of teachers nationally support universal school vouchers.
- A majority of Connecticut teachers and all public school teachers support school choice as long as it:
- Is equally accessible to all students: 62 percent Connecticut, 64 percent national
- Increases academic achievement for low-income students: 52 percent Connecticut, 51 percent national
- Doesn’t shift funds from public schools: 51 percent Connecticut, 64 percent national
- And, only seven percent of Connecticut teachers and six percent of teachers nationally are opposed to school choice in any form.
- Connecticut teachers have mixed feelings about school choice options:
The full report provides details on each of these trends and includes an analysis of the responses from three groups of teachers because of their unique perspectives: early career educators, teachers in underserved communities and teachers of color.
To download the complete report, visit e4e.org/teachersurvey.
The survey was conducted online from April 14-May 6, 2018, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 full-time traditional public school and public charter school teachers and an additional sample of 50 Connecticut teachers. The survey questionnaire was developed in consultation with E4E member teachers from across the U.S. The survey instrument was written and administered by Gotham Research Group, an independent, New York-based research firm.