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20,000 Teachers Provide Powerful Insights on Teaching in an Era of Change in New Primary Sources Survey

NEW YORK, NY – Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation today released results from the comprehensive survey Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change. More than 20,000 teachers in all 50 states participated in this research, revealing teachers’ views on the rewards and challenges of teaching, the implementation of the Common Core State Standards, how teacher evaluation systems are working, how parents can best support their children’s success in school and more.  

Primary Sources is a reflection of the most pressing issues we are facing as teachers today,” said Naima Lilly, a math educator in New York City. “We need to include teachers in the ongoing conversations surrounding education, particularly on the tough topics, to determine what is actually happening, how it is working and how we can focus on solutions. The teacher’s voice is imperative and I hope this report provides insight to leaders at all levels.”

The Primary Sources study seeks to raise awareness of teachers’ views on current issues affecting PreK–12 education. Reflecting this goal, Primary Sources data show that teachers are most satisfied in their jobs when their voices are heard in their school, district, state and nationally.

“Throughout Primary Sources, we see that many of the anxieties teachers have today come from a place of concern for the diverse students who populate their classrooms and how best to provide a quality education for each one,” noted Margery Mayer, President, Scholastic Education. “We must listen to our teachers and provide them with the quality resources and professional development they need to raise the bar for their students and, at the same time, raise the floor for their students who are struggling.”

This survey—the third installment of the report—comes at a critical time for educators across the country. 

“Teachers are leading this work, but they feel their voices are absent in national and state-level discussions about changes in American education,” said Vicki Phillips, Director of Education, College Ready, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This came through very clearly. Teachers’ thoughts provide critical insights for policymakers and administrators, and their voices must guide action on the implementation of new state standards, teacher evaluations and the use of technology for collaborating with other teachers.” 

The views and opinions offered in Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Changeinclude:

The Rewards and Challenges of Teaching

Overwhelmingly passionate and committed to their profession as a means to make a real difference, teachers nearly unanimously see their roles as extending beyond academic instruction to include reinforcing good citizenship, resilience and social skills.

Still, 82 percent of teachers report that constantly changing demands is a significant challenge facing them. Additionally, 73 percent of teachers say they teach students whose reading levels span four or more grade levels, increasing the need for differentiated instruction. But nine out of ten teachers (88%) agree that the rewards of teaching outweigh its challenges, and 89 percent say they are satisfied (51%) or very satisfied (38%) in their jobs.

Common Core State Standards Implementation

While the percentage of teachers in Common Core State Standards adoption states who feel prepared to teach to the standards has grown by sixteen points since 2011 to 75 percent, nearly the same percentage (76%) of teachers surveyed say they need more time to find materials and prepare lessons to implement the Common Core successfully. Additionally, 71 percent of teachers desire more quality professional development.

To help the students in their classrooms meet the Common Core, teachers feel that instructional materials that are age-appropriate, leveled and high-interest are the most important resources. After materials, teachers point to their colleagues— both teachers and administrators.

Teacher Evaluations

During an era where most states will implement or have already implemented new systems of evaluation and accountability, most teachers (78%) say they find their professional evaluations somewhat, very or extremely helpful. Eight in ten (79%) say they receive a formal evaluation at least once a year and a majority (59%) of teachers are satisfied with the frequency of their evaluations. 

Of the teachers who don’t find evaluations very or extremely helpful, 42 percent say they want more feedback, 30 percent want increased fairness in the evaluation process and 23 percent want better-qualified evaluators and observers.

Collaboration with Peers and Students’ Families

Teachers are enthusiastic users of technology to collaborate and find resources, with 91 percent saying they use websites to find or share lesson plans or other classroom content. 

Regarding collaboration with parents, almost all teachers (98%) believe the best thing parents can do to help their child succeed in school is to avoid absences, followed closely by setting high expectations for their child (97%) and working in partnership with teachers when their child has challenges (97%). 

Background on Primary Sources
The significant size and scope of the study allow for analysis of teachers’ views by grade taught, community income level, years of experience and more. Also available are state-by-state highlight data. To view this data and to download the full report, please visit www.scholastic.com/primarysources

Primary Sources: America’s Teachers on Teaching in an Era of Change is the continuation of an ongoing dialogue with America’s teachers. The series of reports was first released in 2009, with findings from more than 40,000 teachers—the largest-ever survey of America’s teachers—sharing views on U.S. schools. The second edition, fielded in 2011 and surveying 10,000 teachers, took a deep look at the teaching profession and the view from the classroom.

Methodology, In Brief
The findings of the third wave of Primary Sources are based on a national online survey conducted by Harrison Group, a YouGov company, among 20,157 PreK–12th grade public school classroom teachers. The survey was conducted between July 1 and July 22, 2013. The data were weighted to ensure alignment with their actual proportions in the population according to grade(s) taught, teacher gender, years of teaching experience and geography.

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and related services and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality books and ebooks, print and technology-based learning materials and programs, magazines, multi-media and other products that help children learn both at school and at home. The Company distributes its products and services worldwide through a variety of channels, including school-based book clubs and book fairs, retail stores, schools, libraries, on-air, and online at www.scholastic.com 

About the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives. In developing countries, it focuses on improving people’s health with vaccines and other lifesaving tools and giving them the chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty. In the United States, it seeks to significantly improve education so that young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based in Seattle, Washington, the foundation is led by CEO Jeff Raikes and Co-chair William H. Gates Sr., under the direction of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett.

About Harrison Group, a YouGov Company
Harrison Group, now a part of YouGov, is a leading global market research and strategy firm with its largest U.S. office located in Waterbury, Connecticut. The company’s cornerstone is providing sophisticated strategy, analytics, and survey and forecasting services. YouGov consists of a cohesive team of researchers, analysts, field experts, focus group facilitators, content-area experts, brand specialists and multivariate statisticians who deliver definitive results for many of the world’s most demanding clients. http://research.yougov.com/landing/harrisongroup/

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