April 2023 marks 40 years since the publication of A Nation at Risk, the report that kicked off the standards-based reform and accountability movement. This period produced exciting results for many students, but not all; throughout it, student achievement rose slowly and steadily before stagnanting over the past decade, and racial achievement gaps persisted.
Voices from the Classroom 2023 explores teachers’ perceptions, 40 years later, about the goals of K-12 education and how we should go about measuring its success; the content they are required to teach and the materials and guidance they are provided to deliver it; and their own profession, the union contracts that generally guide it, and what change is needed to make their job more viable.
We hope this report will provide education leaders at every level of the system with concrete evidence of what teachers want, which, when paired with research on what works and the voices of students and families, can lead us toward a more sustainable, more effective, and more equitable K-12 public education system.
Major Trends and Findings
40 years after the publication of A Nation at Risk, the K-12 public education system continues to underserve students, particularly those historically marginalized.
The goals of the education system are not mutually exclusive, and must all be reached for every child in order to provide students with meaningful options when they graduate from high school.
Summative measures of student learning are critical, but assessment systems must improve in order to effectively and holistically measure multiple, equally important student outcomes.
Academic standards align with what students need to be successful in their future careers, but teachers lack effective curricular materials to deliver them.
With the appropriate guidance and resources, teachers are best equipped to determine how to deliver culturally relevant content to their students.
While teachers are committed to staying in the classroom long-term, they wouldn’t recommend the profession to others, calling the future of the profession into question.
While unions provide many tangible benefits to their teacher members, they do not contribute to the professionalization of the workforce, and so teachers do not look to their union contract as a tool for innovation and improvement.
Current teacher workloads are unsustainable, and they need more support in effectively collaborating with other members of school staff in order to allow them to focus on their own core instructional work.
Raising salaries across the board is the best way to attract and retain a talented and diverse workforce, but compensation must also be differentiated in order to recognize exceptional performers.
Districts must prioritize retaining high-quality, diverse teachers who are most deeply impacting students in moving toward the system’s goals.
Get In Action
Tell US Legislators: Pay teachers a living wage
We must pay teachers the salaries they deserve. Take action now—send an email to your legislators asking them to support the American Teacher Act or the Pay Teachers Act, which would financially incentivize states to set a minimum teacher salary of $60K.
Tell US Legislators: Invest in innovation and scale what works
Teachers can’t be successful in the same outdated system they’ve worked in for decades. Take action now—send an email to your legislators asking them to support President Biden’s request for $405 million for the Education Innovation and Research Program.
Share the Survey Results
Use the graphics in the document linked below to share key findings from the survey with your social media networks.
The Voices from the Classroom 2023 survey questionnaire was developed by 16 Educators for Excellence teacher members from across the United States. The instrument was written and administered by Penta Group Intelligence, an independent research firm, and conducted online from January 6 through February 8, 2023, among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 full-time public-school teachers. Note that all survey results are presented as percentages and, due to rounding, may not always add up to 100 percent.
2022 Survey Results
Click here to check out the 2022 Voices from the Classroom survey results.