Thursday, March 22, 2012

What Do Teachers Really Think About Education Reform?

This from the Shanker Blog:
There has recently been a lot of talk about teachers’ views on education policy. Many teachers have been quite vocal in their opposition to certain policies (also here) and many more have expressed their views democratically – through their unions – especially in states where teachers have collective bargaining rights.
We should listen carefully to these views, but it’s also important to bear in mind that there are millions of public school teachers out there, with a wide variety of opinions on any particular education policy, and not all of their voices might be getting through.
So, the question remains: How do most teachers feel about the current wave of education policy reforms spreading throughout states and districts, including (but not at all limited to) merit pay, eliminating tenure and incorporating test-based measures into teacher evaluations?
The logical mechanism by which we might learn more about teachers’ views on these policies is, of course, a survey. Unfortunately, useful national surveys are quite rare. In order to get accurate estimates, you need an unusually large number of teachers to take the survey (a deliberate “oversample”), and they must be randomly polled (lest there be selection bias). In my last post, I suggested that states/districts conduct their own teacher surveys.  In the meantime, some national evidence is already available, and if the data make one thing clear, it’s that we need more. When it comes to supporting or opposing different policies, teachers’ opinions, like everyone’s, depend a great deal on the details.

Take merit pay, for example. A survey of teachers from 2009, conducted by Public Agenda, asked whether teachers thought that “tying teacher rewards to student performance” would improve teacher effectiveness.
Almost two of three respondents thought the proposal would be either “not at all effective” or “not too effective.” There was, however, some support there – almost one-third of teachers thought it would be either “somewhat effective” or “very effective.”...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Not sure I would want my kid to have a "somewhat effective" teacher or physician. I see the glass as half empty.