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Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Survey of American Public School Teachers

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

In a continuing effort to improve education in our nation’s schools, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation surveyed 40,000 public school teachers.  According to Vicki Phipps, the Gates Foundation’s education director, “Teachers are on the front lines of this work every day.  It doesn’t make sense not to be talking to teachers.”   The survey was conducted between March and June of last year.  Teachers were not told the Gates Foundation sponsored the survey.

Here are a few of the findings:

  • Supportive principals mean more than higher salaries.
  • 64% of teachers said merit pay was important in keeping good teachers.  
  • 29% of teachers belive a longer school day and year would impact student achievement.
  • 22% of teachers say evaluations by principals were an accurate measure of their work.  Teachers prefer evaluations based on how much their students learn.
  • 60% of teachers said setting learning standards in all states would hve a strong impact on student achievement.
  • 40% of teachers said students entered the classroom below grade level.
  • 12% strongly agree that traditional textbooks engage students.  Teachers  prefer digital media over textbooks. 
  • 97% of teacher said setting high expectations is essential in raising their students’ achievement. 

The Gates Foundation research will help shape our national debate on education.  I applaud them for asking teachers what they think.