WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- More than 90 percent of all middle and high school teachers surveyed in the new MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers say that strengthening programs and resources to help diverse learners with the highest needs meet college- and career-ready standards should be a priority in education. Among that group, 59 percent say helping diverse learners "must be done as one of the highest priorities in education."
A large majority of parents of middle and high school students in the survey (84 percent) say addressing the needs of diverse learners should be a priority, including 57 percent who say it must be done as a "highest priority" in education. Most business executives from Fortune 1000 companies also agree that the needs of diverse learners should be a priority (89 percent), but significantly fewer (31 percent), in contrast to teachers and parents, rate it among the highest priorities for education.
Many policymakers have championed a goal of graduating every student from high school ready for college and a career regardless of their income, race, ethnic or language background or disability status. The new MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers – the 27th in an annual series commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive – compares the perspectives on this emerging national goal of key stakeholders: middle and high school teachers, students and parents, and business executives from Fortune 1000 companies as a voice of employers. The first part of the Survey, "Part 1: Clearing the Path" released earlier this month, examines what college and career ready means. Released today, "Part 2: Teaching Diverse Learners," looks at student differences, how teachers are addressing them, and how well students feel their needs are being met.
Given limited resources, teachers say opportunities for collaborative teaching (65 percent), access to online and technology resources (64 percent), better tools for understanding students' learning strengths and needs (63 percent) and instructional strategies for teaching English language learners (62 percent) would have a major impact on their ability to address different learning needs of individual students.
"We all have a role to play in ensuring that students gain the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in their education, careers and personal lives," said MetLife Chairman, President, and CEO C. Robert Henrikson. "MetLife is committed to sharing the views of teachers and others to help launch an important discussion about priorities for education in the 21st century."
A significant majority of middle and high school teachers (61 percent) say they are able to differentiate instruction "a great deal" to meet the varying learning needs of students in their classrooms. Their confidence in this ability to effectively customize their teaching for each student, however, varies by subject. Math teachers are the least likely (46 percent) to say they are able to differentiate instruction a great deal to help their students, compared with higher numbers of English teachers (60 percent) and teachers of other non-math and English subjects (65 percent).
Teachers' confidence in their abilities to meet the needs of several types of learners also depends on their school. Teachers in schools with a college-going school culture – that is, with high proportions of students who will graduate college-ready – are more likely than others to say they are able to differentiate instruction. Among teachers who report that at least three-quarters of students in their school will graduate high school ready for college, 70 percent say they are able to differentiate instruction a great deal. Among teachers who say less than three-quarters of students will graduate high school ready for college, only 50 percent say the same.
While students overall give teachers a grade of B- on average for teaching individual students according to their abilities and needs, students who need the most help have a less positive opinion. Students who have considered dropping out of school are four times as likely as other students to give their teachers a grade of D or F (45 percent vs. 11 percent). Learning-challenged students are also more likely to give their teachers a D or F in this area (19 percent vs. 14 percent).
The survey also examines the attitudes of parents, teachers, and executives toward a number of solutions proposed to help improve American education. Adult stakeholders opinions are divided as to whether using measurements of teacher effectiveness that are based in significant part on student achievement growth should be a priority that takes precedence over others, given limited resources. A majority of parents (92 percent) and executives (97 percent) believe such measurements should be a priority. However, 27 percent of teachers say that no additional resources should be devoted to it.
"As we consider realistically how best to prepare each and every student for success beyond high school, it is important to ask teachers, and listen to what they tell us," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation.
About the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers
The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers, the 27th in the series, examines the priority that all students graduate from high school prepared for college and careers; what being college- and career-ready entails; and the implications of this goal for teaching. The results are based on a national survey conducted between October 4 and November 11, 2010, of 1,000 public school teachers (grades 6-12) by telephone, and 2,002 public school students (grades 6-12), 580 parents of public school students (grades 6-12), and 301 business executives from Fortune 1000 companies online. The data were weighted to key demographic variables to align with the national population of the respective groups. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
MetLife is a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers in more than 60 countries, with leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia Pacific and Europe. MetLife Foundation places strong emphasis on education and draws on the findings of the annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher to inform its grantmaking. For more information about MetLife, please visit the company's web site at www.metlife.com. Additional information about the Foundation is available at www.metlife.org.
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries, and serves clients in over 215 countries and territories. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.