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What We Learned And What It Means

August 17, 2013 09:00 AM
 

Over the past decade, there has been a major shift in US public education, with an increased focus on making sure students are ready for success in college, career, and life and schools and teachers being held accountable for student success. At the center of much of this change has been a focus on improving teacher effectiveness by evaluating and supporting teachers based on academic outcomes.

According to a new survey by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, parents overwhelmingly report that they believe that America’s teachers are doing a good job and that teachers should be supported and paid more. At the same time, this survey shows strong support for many teacher quality reforms, such as incorporating multiple measures, including student achievement growth, into teacher evaluation, compensation, and lay-off decisions – ideas that were not even part of the policy discourse a few years ago. Moreover, the data from this survey suggest that parents believe that it is appropriate to remove ineffective teachers from the classroom and provide financial rewards to help teachers succeed.

A new wave of change is underway that parents seem to support as well. The current push by over 40 states to implement the new Common Core State Standards (common expectations across states for what students are expected to know and be able to do in college and career) may be a step in the right direction for addressing parent concerns about the need to increase expectations and ensure that students are prepared for college, career, and life. Indeed, while only half of the parents reported being familiar with Common Core, five times as many think that the new standards will improve education than think that they won’t.

However, mere adoption of these new standards and teacher evaluation systems will not be enough to change outcomes for students. The challenge for policymakers and system leaders is to ensure that students, parents, and teachers are informed about the new expectations. Teachers must receive the preparation and instructional materials to teach the new content. And, schools must be willing to use this information from evaluations to provide targeted supports to teachers to help them improve and grow. 

This survey illustrates that parents have clear but nuanced views on what is needed in their child’s education – they like how things are progressing; they support reform; and they are focused on getting their children prepared for the future. Parents also recognize their role in ensuring that their children receive a quality education. Unfortunately, this survey also shows that policymakers and district leaders must do a better job at engaging and partnering with parents, as most parents do not feel they have an influence over their child’s education. There is clearly an opportunity to provide more information and clear guidance to parents on how they can be involved in schools and improving outcomes for students.

Some of these reforms have been hotly debated, and it has been asserted that parents oppose these changes. In fact, as we look at the AP-NORC’s analysis, we see four important takeaways:

  • Parents think that the education system is improving, and they support regular assessment and accountability measures to ensure that students are learning and are prepared for college and life.
  • Parents think that quality teachers are extremely important for student success. The three most important quality measures for parents are: a teacher’s passion for their craft, a teacher’s effectiveness at raising student achievement, and the care the teacher shows for the children in their class.
  • Parents support a balanced approach, based on multiple measures, to evaluate and compensate teachers. This includes looking at both their classroom instruction and their impact on student learning.
  • Parents recognize their own importance in ensuring that their children receive a high-quality education; unfortunately, parents do not currently feel that they have much influence over the education system.

How The Teaching Profession Is Transforming

For more information on how the teaching profession is transforming, please see:

  • The Consortium on Chicago School Research has spent the past four years monitoring Chicago Public Schools’ reform of its teacher evaluation systems. It latest study of these reforms is scheduled to be released in August 2013.
  • The Aspen Institute has documented how leading districts such as Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Denver, Hillsborough County, and others have built new teacher evaluation and professional development systems.  
  • TNTP is helping districts rethink how best to evaluate and retain their top teachers. TNTP is also researching how to better support teachers early in their careers.
  • EducationCounsel has prepared a roadmap for states as they design these new teacher and leader evaluation systems.
  • Teach Plus is facilitating opportunities for teachers to learn and grow and influence policy at the local, state, and district level.
  • Public Impact is developing new models to increase student access to the most effective teachers in the country.

Polling Results

Final Report: Parents' Attitudes On The Quality Of Education In The United States
Download topline polling data

 

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