‘New Majority’ Teachers Value Student Data for Professional Improvement

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As baby boomer educators retire and new teachers take their place, students across the country are more likely than ever to have a teacher with fewer than 10 years of experience. The difference between the opinions of these newer teachers — whom Teach Plus calls the “New Majority” — and their more seasoned peers emerged in a recent online survey by Teach Plus of more than 1,000 teachers. The results show surprising alignment of attitudes about the practices and standards that boost student learning. But opinions diverge sharply between the two groups on issues of evaluation and tenure, offering encouraging insights about the direction the teaching profession may be heading.

The survey, “Great Expectations: Teachers’ Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession,” focused its questions on standards and accountability, teacher effectiveness and evaluation, and working conditions.

The sharpest disagreement emerged around the use of student growth measures as part of teacher evaluations: 71 percent of new majority teachers supported this, compared with 41 percent of veteran teachers. More than half of the newer teachers thought student growth measures should count for at least 20 percent of a teacher’s evaluation. Still, both groups recognized that conventional evaluation systems are broken: only 14 percent of the new majority and 15 percent of veteran teachers said conventional evaluations are very helpful in improving practice.

Teachers in both groups cited the need for changes in the teaching environment and to the profession. Only 39 percent of new majority teachers said they believed their licensure tests covered skills they need to be successful in the classroom. That view was shared by slightly more than half of veteran teachers. The two groups also cited more time for collaboration among teachers as the best way to improve student outcomes. Overwhelmingly, the teachers surveyed agreed that for their field to be recognized as a profession, it needs “clear, measurable standards.”

As the teaching profession and our country’s education system continue to evolve, the views and experiences of new majority educators can provide policymakers, teacher training programs, and district leaders useful information about the types of tools and support teachers need to provide high-quality instruction to all students. For guidance on how to create better and more meaningful teacher evaluation systems, check out the Ed Trust’s Fair to Everyone.

— Nicole Tortoriello