One group of award-winning teachers says that the greatest boosts to student achievement come from linking learning to real life and getting parents involved in their children’s education.
Just over 250 Disney Teacher Award winners from the 15 years the honor has been handed out—or about half the total number—voluntarily responded to an online survey last month.
Forty-seven percent of the teachers pointed to “experience-based learning” and 42 percent named parental involvement as one of the two factors that would most improve education.
The teachers put much less stock in solutions popular with the public and teachers’ unions, such as higher pay for teachers (23 percent) and more resources (19 percent). And only 2 percent picked better testing and accountability, the road most favored by many public officials.
On the other hand, 68 percent of the teachers who responded acknowledged that they had changed their teaching methods in some way because of testing and academic standards.
The survey was testimony to other changes as well. Slightly more than half the respondents said they had been asked by policymakers about their views on education, and just under half said their schools’ core curricula had been changed one or two times during the past five years. Thirty percent said they had experienced such a change three or more times in that period.
The Disney Teacher Awards, which honor creativity in the profession, are given to those who have scored highest in three reviews by committees of teaching experts of submitted materials, including essays and recommendations from principals and students. Each winning teacher receives $10,000 from the Walt Disney Co., and their schools get $5,000.
A version of this article appeared in the August 10, 2005 edition of Education Week