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Survey: State Teachers of the Year Would Prioritize School Funding on Anti-Poverty, Early Learning & Reducing Learning Barriers

New York, NY–May 20, 2015–As the school year nears its close, the new class of State Teachers of the Year shared their perspectives on pressing issues facing educators today through an online survey conducted by Scholastic with assistance from the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Topics including school funding, the impact of higher standards, what parts of their days bring the most satisfaction, barriers to student learning, the importance of independent reading and more, were addressed. Results from the survey can be found here: http://edublog.scholastic.com/post/we-surveyed-2015-state-teachers-year.

Key highlights from the online survey of State Teachers of the Year include:

Overcoming Barriers to Learning is a Priority

  • When asked what barriers to learning the respondents believe most affect their students’ academic success, more than three in four of the State Teachers of the Year cited “Family stress” (76 percent), followed by “Poverty” (63 percent), and “Learning and psychological problems” (52 percent).
  • These results align well to the top three areas on which the State Teachers of the Year would focus school funding in order to have the highest impact on student learning: Anti-poverty initiatives (48 percent), early learning (37 percent), and reducing barriers to learning such as access to wrap-around services, healthcare, etc. (35 percent).

Lack of Time is a Challenge while Instruction is a Reward

  • More than four in ten of the State Teachers of the Year referenced a lack of time when responding to an open-ended question, “What do you feel is your biggest challenge as a teacher?” making it the number one challenge cited.
  • The teachers surveyed said they feel the highest job satisfaction from time working with students in the classroom—whether one-on-one or teaching whole group lessons. They find the least satisfaction from required paperwork, grading student work and preparing student report cards.

Independent Reading in the Classroom is Important

  • Ninety-eight percent of the State Teachers of the Year said independent reading time in the classroom is extremely or very important to a child’s overall academic success.
  • The majority (59 percent) said their students have time for independent reading while in their classrooms at least once a week.
  • When asked what the barriers are to having regular independent reading time for students during the school day, teachers cited “Lack of time” (61 percent) above all others.

The Impact of Higher Standards will be Positive

  • Ninety-six percent of the State Teachers of the Year who responded to the survey agreed that higher standards being implemented—Common Core or other high standards—will have a positive impact on student learning.
  • Teachers were emailed the online survey in late April, and 46 responded. Teachers also responded to questions regarding traits they see in good teachers, book recommendations for students, how to inspire independent reading outside the classroom and more. Follow the conversation on edu@scholastic and On Our Minds@Scholastic.


    The National Teacher of the Year Program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Through the Program, CCSSO identifies some of the best teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, amplifies their voices and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.


    Shanna Peeples, 2015 National Teacher of the Year
    “The good news is that teachers love what they do and that includes instilling a love of reading in their students, and we know from research that reading creates a whole universe of great things for students: everything from self-regulation to better relationships. The bad news is that we don’t have enough time to ensure that students get the rich literacy experiences they need to be world-class learners. The worse news is that many of our students are stressed and traumatized by the effects of increasing poverty, which shows up in mental health issues as well as learning disabilities. I hope that as we move forward in education policies, we remember that the decisions we make affect real children in real classrooms in every city in America. And what we do for them is a literal investment in all of our futures.”

    Greg Worrell, President, Scholastic Classroom & Community Group
    “At Scholastic, we believe hearing from teachers and learning more about their views from the classroom are invaluable. The State Teachers of the Year have provided us with insights affecting teachers everywhere. By listening, we are seeing clearly that our efforts to assist teachers in overcoming the very real learning barriers they see every day need to include strengthening the home-to-school connection through learning supports which address social and emotional challenges, and providing early learning initiatives and materials.”

    Chris Minnich, Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
    “Part of our goal of the National Teacher of the Year Program is to elevate the experience and wisdom of educators to inform policy and public dialogue. The Scholastic survey of State Teachers of the Year represents the collective perspectives of great teachers, which we will use to continue to engage with teachers and support them during a time of change in our public education system.”

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