WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 9, 2000 — Scholastic Inc. and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced today the results of the first ever survey of the nation's leading teachers, designed to gain insight into why teachers leave the classroom, what can be done to keep them, and what can be done to attract qualified individuals into teaching.

 

One of the key findings of the Scholastic Inc./CCSSO Teacher Voices Survey is that salary isn't the only issue. Approximately 8 out of 10 respondents felt that higher beginning salaries were needed to keep new teachers in the classroom and that better pay scales were needed to encourage experienced teachers to remain in the classroom. However, teachers also cited lack of respect for the teaching profession as a major stumbling block to recruitment and retention. Respondents said it is a key reason why thousands of good teachers are leaving the profession, contributing to the need for two million teachers by 2002. Unsolicited, 79% of responding teachers said respect for the teaching profession is needed in order to retain qualified teachers.

The Scholastic Inc./CCSSO Teacher Voices Survey's 400 respondents included National Teachers of the Year from the past 50 years and State Teachers of the Year from the past 10 years. Together they represent nearly 9,500 years of cumulative teaching experience. The study, commissioned by Scholastic Inc., was conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers in March 2000. The margin of error is +/- 2%.

Key Findings:

The teacher shortage is real. Nearly 50% of respondents reported a shortage of qualified teachers in their schools. Respondents indicated that the major effects of the shortage include:

  • Larger classesand less individualized instruction
  • Students are taught by non-certified teachers or educators teaching outside their field of expertise
  • Loss of planning timeand increased teaching periods
  • A strain on staff morale, which negatively affects the learning atmosphere of the entire school

The retention problem may not be caused only by low salaries. Teachers polled responded that other challenges they face in the classroom include:

  • Paperwork (nearly 80%)
  • Non-teaching responsibilities (more than 60%)
  • Burned out colleagues (over 70%)
  • Staff morale (more than 60%)
  • Range of student abilities (65%)
  • Changing student population (55%)
  • Class sizes (45%)
  • Parental involvement (49%)
  • Parental support (48%)

To address these challenges and encourage teachers to remain in the profession, respondents cited the need for:

  • Support from school administrators (nearly 90%)
  • Formal mentoring programs for beginning teachers (80%)
  • An active role in decision making (more than 70%)
  • More planning time with peers (more than 70%)
  • Ongoing professional development (65%)
  • Parental support and involvement (nearly 55%)

Respondents felt that our entire society has a responsibility to recruit quality teachers. Although more than 70% of teachers polled felt that colleges, departments of education and school districts have the highest responsibility, those surveyed said that other groups have some level of responsibility as well, including:

  • Individual teachers (more than 95%)
  • Schools and district administrators (more than 95%)
  • Business and industry education support programs (over 90%)
  • Local (80%), state (90%) and federal (over 85%) programs
  • Community-based organizations (over 85%)
  • Parent organizations (80%)

Communities have been proposing a variety of recruitment strategies to address the teacher shortage. Although higher salaries are important, respondents felt that the most successful strategies for recruiting quality teachers include:

  • Scholarships for education students (nearly 75%)
  • Student loan forgiveness (nearly 65%)
  • Signing bonuses for urban and rural teachers (60%)

In response to these survey findings, Scholastic Inc. is building upon its 80-year commitment to learning with the Scholastic Teach Today and Tomorrow campaign, designed to move the recruitment and retention dialogue toward realistic solutions. Scholastic Teach Today and Tomorrow addresses the national teacher shortage by focusing on several key recruitment and retention strategies:

  1. Continue to elevate the status of the teaching profession by honoring outstanding educators through the Teacher of the Year Program;
  2. Give teachers professional development and mentoring opportunities through Scholastic's Teacher Fellows program and the Scholastic Teacher Forums focusing on mentoring;
  3. Provide a platform for the nation's teacher leaders to enter the dialogue on teacher recruitment and retention through vehicles like the Scholastic/CCSSO Teacher Voices Survey;
  4. Offer support for teachers in the "Teacher Resource" section of Scholastic's Web site, www.scholastic.com.

"Our nation's most honored teachers are saying that all of society has a responsibility to ensure that our children have the quality teachers they need to help shape their future," said Ernest Fleishman, Senior Vice President of Education at Scholastic Inc. "The solutions include more than just salary increases: teachers need respect for their profession, mentoring and professional development opportunities, and support from school administrators, parents, and communities."

"The results of the Scholastic/CCSSO Teacher Voices Survey show our nation's leading teachers speaking in near unison on the issues most important to them: increased teacher salaries, stronger mentorship for beginning teachers, and the need for public respect for teaching and its importance to children," commented Gordon Ambach, Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers. "Our Council urges policymakers, educational leaders, and the public to take a close look at these compelling results, and to help elevate teachers to the high degree of respect and compensation they deserve."

Scholastic (NASDAQ: SCHL) the global children's publishing and media company creates and distributes innovative and quality educational materials for use in school — children's books, textbooks, magazines, technology and teacher materials — and engaging and appropriate products for use at home — magazines, software, television programming, videos and toys. Building long-term relationships with teachers, parents and children since 1920, Scholastic is unique in its understanding of what kids want and need to read and learn. Scholastic.com is a leading Internet education destination for K-8 teachers and kids, which attracts over l.5 million unique visitors a month. The Company is the world leader in children's school book clubs and school book fairs, through which children purchase books and software for their use at home. Internationally, Scholastic operates wholly owned companies in Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Hong Kong, India and Argentina. Scholastic's corporate information can be found at .

The Council of Chief State School Officers is a nationwide, nonprofit organization comprised of the public officials who head the departments of elementary and secondary education (and in some states, other aspects of education) in the states, five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Schools. The Council of Chief State School Officers website is http://www.ccsso.org.