The media often reports that increased demands on teachers and some policy reforms at the state and local levels may be limiting teachers’ control of how and what they teach and prompting them to leave the profession in droves. A new analysis from the Center for American Progress, however, suggests otherwise.
Looking at data sets from the 2011-12 Schools and Staffing Survey, various state surveys, and recent polling data on teacher attitudes, the Washington-based group argues that teachers do have autonomy in their teaching and are far more satisfied with their work than many believe.
According to the report, 89 percent of teachers reported being “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their jobs in a recent survey by Scholastic and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and, in most state surveys, many teachers say they have complete autonomy over their teaching.
The report suggests the problem isn’t whether teachers have too little autonomy, but that they have too much of it in their day-to-day teaching. This level of control may be preventing teachers from improving their practice, the report states.
Despite the high levels of control they have over their classrooms, teachers often report being eager for direction and support on what they should teach, the report also notes.
To better support teachers, the center’s analysis recommends that policymakers create better definitions of what teachers should teach and what students should learn. It also calls for offering teachers guidance on both their teaching and on building their profession, and giving teachers advancement opportunities to grow within the education field.
A version of this article appeared in the January 29, 2014 edition of Education Week as Teachers Still Rule in Class, Says Report