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Indicator 12: Teachers' Reports on School Conditions
(Last Updated: March 2018)

During the 2015–16 school year, 43 percent of public school teachers agreed or strongly agreed that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching, and 38 percent agreed or strongly agreed that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching. A higher percentage of secondary school teachers than of elementary school teachers reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching (48 vs. 32 percent).

Managing inappropriate behaviors and classroom disruptions is time-consuming and takes away from instructional time and student engagement in academic behaviors (Riley et al. 2011). In the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS) administered in 2015–16, public school teachers were asked whether student misbehavior and student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching as well as whether school rules were enforced by other teachers and by the principal at their school. These questions were also asked in previous administrations of the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) from 1993–94 to 2011–12. The NTPS was designed to allow comparisons with SASS data. However, because the 2015–16 NTPS was only administered to public school teachers whereas SASS was administered to both public and private school teachers, this indicator focuses on public school teachers only.

During the 2015–16 school year, 43 percent of public school teachers agreed or strongly agreed that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching, and 38 percent agreed or strongly agreed that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching (figure 12.1 and table 12.1). These percentages varied by teacher and school characteristics. For instance, the percentage of teachers who reported that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching was higher for teachers with 3 years or fewer of teaching experience (47 percent) than for those with more years of teaching experience (ranging from 41 to 43 percent). The percentage was also higher for teachers in towns (44 percent) than for those in suburban and rural areas (40 and 37 percent, respectively). The same patterns by years of teaching experience and locale were observed for the percentage of teachers who reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching.


Figure 12.1. Percentage of public school teachers who agreed that student misbehavior and student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching, by selected teacher and school characteristics: School year 2015–16

Figure 12.1. Percentage of public school teachers who agreed that student misbehavior and student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching, by selected teacher and school characteristics: School year 2015–16

‡ Reporting standards not met (the response rate is under 50 percent).
1 Elementary schools are those with any of grades kindergarten through grade 6 and none of grades 9 through 12. Secondary schools have any of grades 7 through 12 and none of grades kindergarten through grade 6. Combined elementary/secondary schools are included in totals but are not shown separately.
NOTE: Includes teachers who "strongly" agreed and those who "somewhat" agreed that student misbehavior and student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Teacher Data File," 2015–16.


A higher percentage of public secondary school teachers than of public elementary school teachers reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching (48 vs. 32 percent). Additionally, a higher percentage of teachers in schools with 1,000 or more students enrolled (46 percent) reported these behaviors than of teachers in schools with smaller enrollment sizes (ranging from 34 to 38 percent).

The percentage of public school teachers who reported that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching fluctuated between 1993–94 and 2015–16. The percentage in 2015–16 (43 percent) was lower than in 1993–94 (44 percent) but higher than in the intervening survey years (ranging from 36 to 41 percent; figure 12.2 and table 12.1). The percentage of public school teachers reporting that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching increased between 1993–94 and 2015–16 (from 28 to 38 percent); however, there was no measurable difference between the two most recent survey years (2011–12 and 2015–16).


Figure 12.2. Percentage of public school teachers who agreed that student misbehavior and student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching, and percentage who agreed that other teachers and the principal enforced school rules: Selected school years, 1993–94 through 2015–16

Figure 12.2. Percentage of public school teachers who agreed that student misbehavior and student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching, and percentage who agreed that other teachers and the principal enforced school rules: Selected school years, 1993–94 through 2015–16

1 Teachers were asked whether their "principal enforces school rules for student conduct and backs me up when I need it."
2 Teachers were asked whether "rules for student behavior are consistently enforced by teachers in this school, even for students not in their classes."
NOTE: Includes teachers who "strongly" agreed and those who "somewhat" agreed that student misbehavior and student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching, as well as teachers who "strongly" agreed and those who "somewhat" agreed that school rules were enforced by other teachers and the principal.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), "Public School Teacher Data File," 1993–94, 1999–2000, 2003–04, 2007–08, and 2011–12; "Charter School Teacher Data File," 1999–2000; and National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Teacher Data File," 2015–16.


During the 2015–16 school year, 67 percent of public school teachers agreed or strongly agreed that other teachers at their school enforced the school rules, and 84 percent agreed or strongly agreed that the principal enforced the school rules (figure 12.3 and table 12.2). These percentages also varied by school characteristics. For instance, a lower percentage of secondary school teachers than of elementary school teachers reported that school rules were enforced by other teachers (53 vs. 75 percent) and by the principal (82 vs. 85 percent), and a lower percentage of teachers in suburban areas than in rural areas reported so. The percentages of public school teachers reporting that school rules were enforced by other teachers and by the principal were also lower for teachers in schools with 1,000 or more students enrolled than for teachers in schools of smaller enrollment sizes.


Figure 12.3. Percentage of public school teachers who agreed that other teachers and the principal enforced school rules, by selected teacher and school characteristics: School year 2015–16

Figure 12.3. Percentage of public school teachers who agreed that other teachers and the principal enforced school rules, by selected teacher and school characteristics: School year 2015–16

‡ Reporting standards not met (the response rate is under 50 percent).
1 Teachers were asked whether "rules for student behavior are consistently enforced by teachers in this school, even for students not in their classes."
2 Teachers were asked whether "my principal enforces school rules for student conduct and backs me up when I need it."
3 Elementary schools are those with any of grades kindergarten through grade 6 and none of grades 9 through 12. Secondary schools have any of grades 7 through 12 and none of grades kindergarten through grade 6. Combined elementary/secondary schools are included in totals but are not shown separately.
NOTE: Includes teachers who "strongly" agreed and those who "somewhat" agreed that school rules were enforced by other teachers and the principal.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), "Public School Teacher Data File," 2015–16.


Between 1993–94 and 2015–16, the percentage of public school teachers who reported that school rules were enforced by other teachers fluctuated between 62 and 71 percent, and the percentage who reported that rules were enforced by the principal fluctuated between 81 and 88 percent, showing no consistent trends (figure 12.2 and table 12.2). The percentages of public school teachers who reported that school rules were enforced by other teachers and by the principal were both higher in 2015–16 than in 1993–94 and 1999–2000, but lower than in 2003–04 and 2007–08. There were no measurable differences between the two most recent survey years (2011–12 and 2015–16) in either percentage.

The 2011–12 school year was the most recent survey year for which state-level data on public school teachers' reports on various aspects of school conditions were available. In 2011–12, data were available for 45 states and the District of Columbia. Among these jurisdictions, the percentage of public school teachers who reported that student misbehavior interfered with their teaching ranged from 31 percent in Wyoming to 55 percent in Louisiana, and the percentage who reported that student tardiness and class cutting interfered with their teaching ranged from 25 percent in Kansas to 57 percent in Alaska (table 12.3). The percentage of public school teachers who reported that school rules were enforced by other teachers ranged from 59 percent in Vermont to 77 percent in Oregon, and the percentage who reported that rules were enforced by the principal ranged from 79 percent in New Mexico and Nevada to 92 percent in Kansas.


This indicator has been updated to include 2015–16 data. For more information: Tables 12.1, 12.2, and 12.3, appendix B for definitions of school levels, and Taie and Goldring (2017), (https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2017/2017072.pdf).