Communities In Schools

National Survey of American Teachers

Posted on June 22, 2015

A new Public Opinion Strategies survey of 700 elementary and secondary teachers nationally indicates that student poverty, lack of parental engagement, over-testing, weak administrators, and student apathy are major barriers to learning, reports Lyndsey Layton for The Washington Post. Nine out of 10 teachers reported spending personal money on school supplies, 51 percent on money to feed students, 49 percent on new shoes or clothes for students, and 29 percent facilitated medical care for students. Respondents devoted 20 percent of their school time helping students resolve non-academic problems. “Twenty percent is the equivalent of one day a week or four days a month, or, extrapolated out, roughly 2.5 to 3 years out of a child’s 12-year career,” observes Dan Fuller of Communities In Schools. Educators under 34 or with less than five years experience spent the most time helping students with problems unrelated to classroom instruction. Grouped by race, half of white teachers identified over-testing as the biggest problem, followed by lack of parental engagement. African-American teachers gave equal weight to lack of parental engagement and over-testing, while Hispanic teachers said their greatest problem is students coming to school distracted by outside problems, followed by over-testing. A majority of teachers want school-based social services to help low-income students, and community partnerships and outside professionals to work with students in schools.

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