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Surveys Probe Generational Attitudes of Teaching Force

By Stephen Sawchuk — October 22, 2012 2 min read
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A survey from teacher-policy group Teach Plus points to differences in how “new majority” teachers—teachers with fewer than 10 years of experience who now make up more than half the teaching force—view aspects of their profession, compared with their veteran peers holding 11 or more years of experience.

The new-majority teachers were generally more receptive than veterans to the accountability movement (student data, evaluations)and its implications for teacher policy, but they also hold some traditional opinions on working conditions. For instance, they agree with their veteran peers that improved professional development would help them do a better job in the classroom.

The data are based on an online survey of some 1,015 teachers. While this self-selection means the survey isn’t a random sample of the teaching population, the results were reflective of the experience of the national teaching force, with 49 percent having 10 or fewer years of teaching experience and 51 percent having 11 or more years.

Some areas of notable distinction between the two groups:

• Almost three quarters of new-majority teachers felt student growth should be part of their evaluations, compared with 42 percent of veterans;
• 60 percent of new-majority teachers were interested in changing compensation and tenure systems, compared with just 20 percent of veterans; and
• 41 percent said they’d consider changing pensions to pay for higher salaries, compared with 22 percent of veterans.

There were some important areas of agreement, too: Both the new-majority and the veteran teachers agreed that “more time to collaborate with peers” would be the best way to improve student outcomes. Interestingly, neither group was very excited about the proposal to free up cash to increase salaries by raising class sizes, an idea that has emerged recently; just 4 percent of new-majority and 6 percent of veterans supported that strategy. (More than half of both groups of teachers supported raising taxes instead.)

And of eight strategies to improve student achievement, both groups placed a longer school day dead last.

It’s particularly interesting to consider these findings in light of a similarly themed survey from a few years back, from Learning Point Associates. That survey was a random sample, that time of about 900 teachers, and it also found some notable differences between “Gen Y” teachers (those born between 1977 and 1995) and older colleagues.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.