Survey Reveals that Only 1% of Teachers Find No Child Left Behind an
Effective Way to Assess the Quality of Schools and
69% Report It’s Pushing Teachers Out of the Profession
April 2007—Over 5600 public school teachers from all 50 states recently responded to a Teachers Network online survey regarding the effectiveness of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) and its impact on the teaching and schools.
Survey results show how for the majority of teachers the emphasis of NCLB on high-stakes testing is not working. Only 37% of respondents found standardized tests “somewhat useful” but 42% deemed them “not at all” helpful to their teaching. Over 40% claim that these tests are encouraging them to use rote drill, and 44% report that the tests are pushing them to eliminate curriculum material not tested.
Over 40% believe that NCLB does not result in teachers making instructional decisions that are best for their students or that it’s helping to reduce the achievement gap in education—its primary goal. And fewer (3%) agree that it encourages them to improve their teaching effectiveness with all students. Fewer still (1%) find it is an effective way to assess the quality of schools.
Three-quarters of the teachers surveyed reported experiencing a great deal of pressure from NCLB to improve students’ test scores due to NCLB, coming from the top down. Among the forces exerting pressure on teachers to improve student scores are state departments of education (60%), district administrators (57%), newspapers and other media (43%), and principals (39%). Only 10% said they felt pressure from parents.
What will be of real concern to policymakers will be our findings regarding teacher retention: 69% of survey respondents “strongly agree” that NCLB with its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals has contributed to teacher burnout.
The respondents were evenly distributed across the grade levels from kindergarten through 12th grade. Slightly more than half of the survey takers (52.2%) were not from a school that has been identified as one in need of improvement in any academic area and/or with any disaggregated population of students. Teacher respondents ranged from
1-3 years experience (17.2%) to teachers with 25 or more years (16.5%). One-fifth of the teachers who responded have been teaching between 6-10 years.
“As we look at this data,” explains Professor Frances Rust of the New York University Steinhardt School of Education, “it seems very clear that from the teachers' perspective, NCLB is a top down mandate about which they feel greatest pressure for their students to pass high-stakes tests coming from their district administrators. This deprofessionalizes the teaching force, pushing teachers towards rote instruction that bypasses curriculum areas that are not tested and minimizes teachers' efforts to be responsive to the specific needs of learners in their classrooms.”
According to William J. Cirone, Superintendent of Santa Barbara County Schools and Chairman, Teachers Network Board of
Trustees, “Teachers have always been concerned about accountability and authentic assessment but the survey shows that this law really misses the mark on exactly what it is supposed
to be targeting—and the unintended consequence is more teachers are leaving because of the law.”
The survey and survey data are available at http://teachersnetwork.org.
About Teachers Network
Teachers Network is a non-profit organization—by teachers, for teachers—with a 26-year track record of success, dedicated to improving student learning in public schools nationally
and internationally. Teachers Network is unique in its focus on professional development as the key to improving student achievement. Using the power of an award-winning web site, videos,
and print resources, Teachers Network leverages the creativity and expertise of a national and international community of outstanding educators. Through its leadership, Teachers Network
empowers teachers to transform public schools into creative learning communities. For more information about Teachers Network, go to http://teachersnetwork.org.