NEW YORK, Nov. 16, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- The views and experiences of more than 4,700 public school Pre-K–12 teachers and principals representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia were revealed today by Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) in a new report, theTeacher & Principal School Report: Equity in Education. Findings show the overwhelming majority of educators (97%) agree that "equity in education for all children should be a national priority." However, they report that barriers to equity are pervasive across school poverty levels and a lack of resources to support students exists both in- and out-of-school. The report provides new data on teachers' and principals' views regarding the barriers to equity, educators' funding priorities and personal spending for students and classrooms, the role of families and communities, and professional development needs.
"Teachers and principals are on the front lines every day working hard to meet the needs of each individual student. In the Teacher & Principal School Report, educators in schools across poverty levels tell us that children are arriving at school in need of mental health services, living in poverty, or experiencing personal crisis—all conditions that create barriers to learning," noted Michael Haggen, Chief Academic Officer, Scholastic Education. "The report also shows us educators' belief that given the right resources, including high-quality instructional materials, community and family partners, and professional development, they can provide a quality education for every young person who walks through their doors."
Barriers to Equity in Education
Teachers and principals across school poverty levels agree (87%) that many of their students face barriers to learning that come from outside the school environment, and while a greater percentage of educators in high-poverty schools (98%) report having students with barriers, 66% say the same in low-poverty schools.
High percentages of principals report having students in their schools who are experiencing family or personal crisis, in need of mental health services, and living in poverty, and many say these student populations have increased in the last three years.
Only 15% of teachers in high-poverty schools agree that most students they work with start the school year ready for grade-level work, while 64% of teachers in low-poverty schools agree students enter grades academically prepared.
Many teachers and principals report inadequate access to a variety of resources including access to books at home and family engagement, with large disparities based on school poverty levels. Sixty-nine percent of educators in high-poverty schools vs. 20% in low-poverty schools say books at home are not adequately available and 68% vs. 18% say the same regarding family involvement in student learning.
Educators' Funding Priorities & Personal Spending
Teachers and principals agree that academic or social-emotional intervention initiatives and programs and additional high-quality staff to reduce student-to-teacher ratio should be top funding priorities. Principals add additional items to address barriers from outside the school environment and teachers focus on in-school and classroom needs.
Educators also share how they are filling in the funding gaps with their own personal spending. On average in the past year, teachers in high-poverty schools reported spending $672 of their own money on items for classroom or student use vs. $495 in low-poverty schools; principals in high-poverty schools spent $1,014 vs. $514 low-poverty schools. They purchase items for the classroom as well as clothing and food for students in need.
Families & Communities as Important Partners
Educators agree (99%) that "it is important to student success that families be involved in their children's learning," yet, 74% say they need help engaging the families of their students.
Fifty-eight percent of principals report that they have community partners that are providing students with mental health services, 45% say partners provide before- and/or after-school programs/childcare, 44% healthcare services, and 41% food for students outside of the school day.
Educators' Commitment to the Profession
Despite the challenges, teachers and principals are committed to their careers. Ninety-nine percent of educators agree that being a teacher or principal is a "challenging, but rewarding career," and virtually all teachers (96%) and principals (99%) say that working with students is the "most satisfying part of their school day."
The survey questions were developed in collaboration with the 2016 State Teachers of the Year through the Council of Chief State School Officers' (CCSSO) National Teacher of the Year Program to ensure the voice of educators would be heard authentically and accurately on the most current issues affecting schools today.
Linda Glasgow, 2016 Missouri State Teacher of the Year who reviewed the findings said, "Every child deserves a high-quality education without regard to income, ethnicity, or parental education level." She added, "The Teacher & Principal School Report is bringing together the voices of educators and, in doing so, shows our dedication but also the support we need to be able to achieve equity in education because each child's needs are different. Teachers and principals will both go above and beyond to serve their students but we are still in need of resources to address barriers to learning."
LaQuita Outlaw, a middle school principal in New York State also commented, "The Teacher & Principal School Report displays that both groups of educators have the same goals, supporting each child to reach his or her own greatest potential. The research also shines a light on how varied the needs of educators are in order to serve a diverse population of students and how the different roles of teachers and principals can come together to help the whole child."
Methodology, In Brief The findings reported in the Teacher & Principal School Report: Equity in Education are based on a national online survey managed by YouGov among public school Pre-K–12 teachers (3,694) and principals (1,027). The survey was conducted between July 22, 2016 and August 26, 2016. The data was weighted on gender, years of teaching experience (teachers only), school grade range, district enrollment, school urbanicity, and percentage of students receiving free/reduced-price lunch. School poverty levels were determined by NCES definitions of high- and low-poverty schools, based on the percentage of students eligible for free/reduced-price lunch, i.e. low poverty (0–25%) and high poverty (76%+).
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