When asked to select their top five funding priorities, principals hone in on areas that can help address the outside barriers to learning they observe among students and families, such as intervention programs and access to wrap-around services, along with early learning initiatives and programs. Principals’ in-school priorities focus on areas like professional development and reducing the student-to-teacher ratio.
Teachers’ top funding priorities are first and foremost to reduce the student-to-teacher ratio and purchase high-quality instructional materials and textbooks. Across school poverty levels, there are no meaningful differences among teachers’ top five funding priorities.
On average in the past year, the teachers in the survey spent $530 of their own money on items for classroom or student use with teachers in high-poverty schools spending nearly 40% more than other teachers.
Teachers across school poverty levels are spending their own money on a wide variety of items for their students and classrooms. In high-poverty schools, teachers are more likely to purchase food and snacks for students, and cleaning supplies.
Both teachers (56%) and principals (41%) are spending their own money on books. While 89% of teachers have classroom libraries, regardless of school poverty level, 31% have fewer than 50 books.
Principals report spending, on average, $683 of their own money in the past year on items for school, classroom and student use. Principals in high-poverty schools spend about twice as much of their own money than principals in low-poverty schools. This increased spending among principals in high-poverty schools applies to many items, particularly food and snacks, clothing, and supplies like notebooks, binders, etc., as well as tissues, hand sanitizer, etc.
Both teachers (56%) and principals (41%) are spending their own money on books. While Eighty-nine percent of teachers have classroom libraries, regardless of school poverty level, 31% have fewer than 50 books.
The average number of books in teachers’ classroom libraries is 254 but overall, the size is affected by grade level, subjects taught and years of experience. Math teachers and high school teachers are most likely to have fewer than 50 books, while elementary teachers are most likely to have 250 or more books.
Years of teaching experience also comes into play, with more experienced teachers having had more time to accumulate larger libraries.
Many teachers report needing titles that are culturally relevant, in languages other than English and that have diverse characters. Overall, teachers in high-poverty schools are more likely to identify a wide range of needs, selecting 5.9 types of books, compared with teachers in low-poverty schools who select 4.4. However, the number of books in their classroom libraries is similar to those in lower-poverty schools.
Like teachers, principals and librarians want books that reflect cultural diversity. High-interest, low-reading-level books and graphic novels are also needed. Principals and librarians are more likely than teachers to want ebooks.
And like teachers, book needs increase as school poverty levels increase. On average, principals and librarians in high-poverty schools select 5.8 types of books, compared with those in low-poverty schools, who select 4.3.