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


The Teacher Survey on Education Reform provides information about teachers" perspectives on the status of education reform in U.S. public elementary and secondary schools. In this report, most findings are presented in the aggregate because there were few significant differences by school/teacher characteristics.

Forty-two percent of the teachers reported understanding the concept of new higher standards very well, and 35 percent reported feeling very well equipped to apply them.

About half of the sampled teachers reported that certain activities related to education reform were incorporated into the classroom to a great extent, including assisting all students to achieve to high standards and using instructional strategies aligned with high standards. Teachers did not report incorporating innovative technologies, such as the Internet and telecommunications-supported instruction, and authentic student assessment, such as portfolios that measure performance against high standards, into the classroom to a great extent. Teachers were, however, likely to report a need for more information in these areas. With the exception of innovative technologies, a majority of teachers in core academic subjects also generally reported use of education reform activities to some extent in at least one class.

The survey asked teachers whether they applied the same high standards of performance to special needs students, i.e., those withlimited English proficiency and those with disabilities. About 30 percent of the teachers reported applying the same high standards to such students to a great extent. Future research efforts might ask teachers whether they have made adjustments to their teachingmethods to allow these students to achieve to the same high standards.

Elementary school teachers were more likely to report engaging parents in parental involvement activities, to a great extent, than middle and high school teachers. Also, since almost all self-contained classroom teachers taught at the elementary level, they too were more likely to report involving parents than were teachers whose main assignment was teaching a single subject.

Almost all teachers reported participating in professional development activities. Fifty-six percent reported that they attended professional development activities where information on high standards was a major focus. Teachers who reported that they implemented more reform activities were more likely to attend more professional development activities with a major focus on higher standards. Teachers reported receiving information on high standards from inservice workshops or programs, district or school basedlong-term ongoing comprehensive professional development programs, and summer institutes. Elementary school teachers weremore likely than middle and high school teachers to report that the professional development activities sponsored or supported by their schools were ongoing, included classroom strategies, and provided followup activities to a great extent.

Eighty percent or more of teachers reported using other teachers, inservice training, school administrators, and institutes or workshops to help them understand or use comprehensive reform strategies. Eleven of the other 21 specific information sources were used by more than 50 percent of the teachers. However, less than 50 percent of teachers reported that any of the sources they used were very effective in helping them understand or use comprehensive reform strategies.

Teachers reported making use of many sources of information and assistance to help them understand or use comprehensive reformstrategies. Teachers reported that their first choice for receiving information was workshops and summer institutes.