Professional Development

Views of Technology Differ Among Elementary, High School Educators

By Sean Cavanagh — February 22, 2013 2 min read
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Teachers and principals in elementary schools are more likely to see school leaders’ competence in using technology as important than high school educators are, according to a new nationwide survey.

That finding is just one of the nuggets included in the MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which was released this week and dissects the views of teachers and principals on a variety of topics, from their workloads to their satisfaction on the job. The widely publicized annual survey revealed frustration among school principals with the increasing complexity and stress associated with their jobs. (See my colleague Liana Heitin’s full story on the survey’s findings.)

The MetLife findings on educators’ views of school technology have received less attention, though the results reveal that opinions of tech’s importance vary by the grade levels teachers and administrators serve.

For instance, 54 percent of elementary school principals surveyed said that a principal’s understanding of how to use technology is important to being an effective school leader. Just 39 percent of high school principals had that same opinion.

Among teachers, there was a similar split. While 50 percent of elementary school teachers regarded technology skills as important for principals to have, just 39 percent of high school teachers shared that view.

What might be behind that divide? Are elementary teachers and principals more attuned to the potential benefits of educational technology—and the pitfalls of applying it incorrectly—than their high school peers? Is their a generational split among the principals and teachers who serve early, as opposed to upper-level grades?

It’s worth noting that the survey found that elementary school principals and teachers placed a greater value on principals having a number of different skills and experiences—not just those involving technology—than high school educators do. Elementary school educators saw principals’ ability to use data about student performance to improve instruction, their competence in evaluating teachers using multiple measures, and principals having experience as classroom teachers, as more important than high school employees did.

Overall, more principals viewed the ability to use data wisely as an important school-leadership skill than did those who said the same about school technology, by a margin of 85 percent to 50 percent.

Teachers also did not place a high importance on principals’ technological know-how, at least compared with other skills and experiences they believed principals should have. See the table below for more details:

A version of this news article first appeared in the Digital Education blog.