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Principals, Teachers Endorse Career Ladders in a Survey

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Some 92 percent of principals and 81.6 percent of teachers responding to a recent survey said they either agreed or "tended to agree" with recommendations from national and state committees that call for career ladders for teachers.

The 919 principals and 1,013 teachers responding to the Educator Opinion Poll conducted by the Educational Research Service also said they favored proposals that would require newly graduated teachers to pass examinations in subject areas and in teaching methods. More than 80 percent of the principals and more than three-fourths of the teachers surveyed favored both requirements.

The teachers and principals involved in the survey represent a random sample of all teachers and principals in the nation, according to the ers report.

First of a Series

The survey, mailed in May, is the first of a series of polls that the ers says will be used to gauge the views on educational issues held by teachers, principals, superintendents, business leaders, and government officials.

The ers is an independent, nonprofit organization that is sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators, American Association of School Personnel Administrators, Association of School Business Officials, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, and National School Public Relations Association.

"It is these professionals who will carry the burden of implementing changes in America's schools," according to the research organization's president, Glen Robinson. "The opinions, expectations, and goals of these diverse groups of educators must be known and considered if significant improvements in American education are to be made."

About half the teachers and 60 percent of the principals surveyed agreed that experienced teachers should be required to pass competency tests in their subject areas.

According to the survey, half of the teachers and two-thirds of the principals also said that merit pay should be available to all teachers meeting appropriate performance criteria.

But only 18.3 percent of teachers and 28.1 percent of principals agreed that teachers in critical areas such as mathematics and science should be paid higher salaries.

Besides obtaining data on reactions to recommendations of national and state commissions, the first ers poll also asked teachers and principals about their views on student attitudes and behavior, and about factors that inhibit teachers and principals from doing their best work. It also sought information about their status, training, salary, and career goals.

Problems Cited

About four out of 10 teachers cited too much paperwork, too many students in class, and lack of concern and support from parents as factors that hampered teaching.

High-school teachers said lack of parental concern and support was the most serious factor detracting from their teaching, followed by inadequate student preparation and too many students per class. Elementary-school teachers most often cited excessive paperwork and insufficient time for class preparation, as well as too many students to teach in each class.

Teachers in junior high schools specified large classes, paperwork, and lack of parental concern and support, in that order, as major factors keeping them from doing the best job possible, the report said.

Insufficient Time

A majority of principals ranked insufficient time for observation first among major deterrents to their efforts to function as instructional leaders. Concern about school violence--whether against teachers, staff, or students--ranked at the bottom of the list of 30 potential problem areas, according to the report.

Some 72.8 percent of the teachers said they intended to stay in the profession as long as possible. Of the remaining teachers, 24.1 percent were undecided about their ultimate career plans and said they were considering other occupations, and 2.3 percent said they definitely planned to leave the profession.

The 94-page report is available for $26 from the ers, 1800 North Kent St., Arlington, Va. 22209.--sr

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