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Press Release: What Keeps Effective Teachers in the Classroom

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

WHAT KEEPS EFFECTIVE TEACHERS IN THE CLASSROOM

 Teachers Network Survey Reveals What It Will Really Take
To Make Sure Every Child Has an Effective Teacher

New York , NY , February 23, 2010 . Respondents to a recent survey conducted by Teachers Network were very clear about the benefits of participation in collaborative activities through professional networks—in order to support and help keep teachers in the classroom. Over 90 percent of the teachers reported that their network participation improved their teaching practice, and over three-fourths feel that it has improved their school overall. Moreover, 94 percent stated that their knowledge and skills increased. Further, almost 80 percent of respondents claimed that their network involvement directly fueled their intention to stay in teaching.

For example, in answering the survey question, “As a result of network participation, I have…” the following responses were tabulated:

Teachers Network, a national and international non-profit organization, with funding from the Ford Foundation, has conducted a major national survey of 1,210 classroom teachers— in order to capture the direct voices of teachers , as they share what they know helps keep effective teachers in the classroom, especially in high-needs schools. Follow-up interviews with network participants provided a more nuanced view of ways in which opportunities for collaboration, leadership (within and beyond the classroom), and professional development / training can increase teacher efficacy and effectiveness, and improve the retention of the classroom experts that all students deserve. Teachers Network's survey sample was drawn from a diverse and accomplished group of PreK-12 teacher leaders in every subject area: 93 percent were fully state-certified in their subject area and grade level at the time of the survey, and 78 percent held at least a master's degree. A majority reported that they worked in urban, high-needs schools, where more than 75 percent of the student body was comprised of low-income or minority students.

The research findings, as evaluated and written by the Center for Teaching Quality [CTQ] in a final research report entitled: A Better System for Schools: Developing, Supporting, and Retaining Effective Teachers— also buttressed by related policy briefs and papers by CTQ as well as by Dr. Ken Futernick of West Ed—have now been released, on Teachers Network's website, at: www.teachersnetwork.org/effectiveteachers .

Teachers Network's President & CEO, Ellen Dempsey , states that “This is the moment in history to change the national conversation about teaching. This survey tells us—directly from the voices of classroom teachers from throughout the country—what they know they need in terms of opportunities for collaboration, leadership, and professional development—to ensure the highest student achievement for all.”

According to the survey, one respondent put it succinctly, saying, “Teachers stay when they feel that they are supported and that they have good professional relationships [with their colleagues].” In fact, the analysis of Teachers Network's survey data reveals that—controlling for a variety of school factors—colleagues' support was the only school culture factor significantly associated with teachers' planned long-term retention. Further, teachers who planned to stay in the classroom for up to five years cited opportunities for professional learning or high standards among staff as most important.

Specifically, the Center for Teaching Quality research report on the survey conducted by Teachers Network, along with a set of associated papers from CTQ and Ken Futernick of West Ed, explore what it really takes to accomplish the goals of developing, supporting, and retaining effective teachers. For instance, drawing upon the survey results of more than 1,200 teachers nationwide, as well as a wide array of related research, it was found that:

Teachers whose students make the greatest achievement gains have extensive preparation and experience relevant to their current assignment (subject, grade level, and student population taught).
Opportunities to work with like-minded, similarly accomplished colleagues—and to build and share collective expertise—are also strongly associated with effective teaching.
Accomplished teachers who have opportunities to share their expertise—and serve as leaders (as coaches, mentors, teacher educators, etc.)—are more likely to remain in the profession.
To teach effectively, teachers must have access to the people, resources, and policies that support their work in the classroom. This includes: (1) principals who cultivate and embrace teacher leadership; (2) time and tools for teachers to learn from each other, (3) opportunities for teachers to connect and work with community organizations and agencies that support students and their families outside the school walls; (4) evaluation systems that comprehensively measure the impact of teachers on student learning, (5) performance pay systems that primarily reward the spread of teaching expertise and spur collaboration among teachers.

To help share these findings, and to work toward re-shaping the national conversation about what it will really take to improve teaching quality to help impact every student in all schools, Teachers Network is also embarking on a major campaign, also funded by the Ford Foundation, to get the word out to virtually all constituencies throughout the nation.

To this end, three major regional “convenings” are scheduled to take place during the coming year, the first of which will occur in Los Angeles on March 2 nd at the USC Davidson Conference Center —sponsored by: Teachers Network, Ford Foundation, Cotsen Family Foundation, Stuart Foundation, and the Los Angeles Education Partnership. This event will also be followed by similar “convenings”—targeting educators and policymakers alike—in both New York City and Chicago .

In early March, Teachers Network is also launching a major new social networking website, the purpose of which will be to feature all the research findings, briefs, and papers; a companion documentary-video entitled “Teachers on Teaching” narrated by actor Cynthia Nixon and spotlighting the direct voices of teachers; and, significantly, a dedicated blog and other vehicles for continuing the conversation throughout the nation and sharing suggestions from virtually all constituencies about what can be done in order to improve teacher retention and effectiveness in all schools so that every child has the very best possible opportunity to achieve.

###

About Teachers Network [www.teachersnetwork.org]. Teachers Network is a non-profit organization– by teachers, for teachers –with a three-decade-long track record of success, dedicated to improving student learning in public schools, and cutting through teacher isolation. Using the power of an award-winning website, video, and print resources, it leverages the creativity and expertise of a national and international community of outstanding educators. The organization is unique in its focus on the teacher as key to improving student achievement in public schools. Through its leadership, Teachers Network empowers teachers to transform public schools into creative learning communities so every student will succeed and contribute to the public good. Over the years, Teachers Network has directly impacted over 1.5 million teachers and nearly 40 million students.

About the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) [www.teachingquality.org]. The Center for Teaching Quality is a non-profit organization that seeks to apply research and policy development initiatives in order to improve student learning and advance the teaching profession by cultivating teacher leadership, conducting timely research, and crafting smart policy—all in an effort to ensure that every student in America has a qualified, well-supported and effective teacher.

 

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