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Status of Education Reform in Public Elementary and Secondary Schools: Teachers' Perspective
NCES: 1999045
February 1999


  • Forty-two percent of elementary and secondary public school teachers reported understanding the concept of new higher standards for student achievement very well, and 35 percent said they felt very well equipped to set or apply new higher standards for their students (Figure 1).
  • Two activities associated with education reform were frequently cited by teachers as being incorporated into their classes to a great extent: using instructional strategies aligned with high standards (56 percent) and assisting all students to achieve to high standards (52 percent). Only 7 percent of teachers reported incorporating innovative technologies such as the Internet and telecommunicationssupported instruction to a great extent (Table 2).
  • Seventy-nine percent of teachers identified innovative technologies as one of the three areas for which they most needed information, and 53 percent reported needing information on using authentic student assessments, such as portfolios that measure performance against high standards (Table 2).
  • According to teachers, authentic assessments (such as portfolios) that measure performance against high standards were more likely to be used in English/language arts (64 percent) than in mathematics (51 percent), science (42 percent), and history/social studies (38 percent; Table 3).
  • Fifty-six percent of teachers reported having students with limited English proficiency enrolled in their classes, and 79 percent reported having students with disabilities. Thirtythree percent of such teachers reported applying, to a great extent, the same high standards of performance used for other students to students with limited English proficiency, as did 28 percent for students with disabilities (Table 4).
  • Twenty-eight percent of all teachers reported that they provided information or advice, to a great extent, to parents to help them create supportive environments at home. Forty-six percent of elementary school teachers reported engaging in this activity, compared to 20 percent of middle and 10 percent of high school teachers (Table 5, appendix Table B-5, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Table 3).
  • Ninety-four percent of teachers reported attending an average of 42 hours of professional development activities such as professional meetings, inservice workshops, and conferences during the period September 1, 1994, through August 31, 1995 (Table 7 and appendix Table B-6).
  • Teachers who reported that they implemented larger numbers of reform activities in their classrooms were more likely to report attending professional development activities with a major focus on higher standards (Table 9).
  • Among teachers who used various sources of information or resources to help them understand or use comprehensive reform strategies 1, one-third or more reported they felt that other teachers (39 percent), inservice training (37 percent), and institutes or workshops (38 percent) were very effective resources. U.S. Department of Education resources were considered very effective sources of information on comprehensive reform strategies by 4 percent to 11 percent of teachers consulting these sources (Table 12).

1 Data were collected prior to the Obey-Porter legislation and do not report information about the Comprehensive School Reform Demonstration Program created under that legislation and initiated in Fall 1997. "Comprehensive reform" would have been interpreted broadly for a variety of school reform activities.