Today’s teachers less experienced, more open

More inexperienced teachers are in today’s classrooms than ever before and they are more open than their veteran colleagues to performance-driven options for how they’re evaluated and paid, according to the results of a new survey conducted by the Boston-based nonprofit Teach Plus.

For the first time in decades, more than 50 percent of the nation’s teaching force is comprised of teachers who have been in the classroom under 10 years, Teach Plus found in “Great Expectations: Teachers’ Views on Elevating the Teaching Profession,” which looks at the changing demographics of U.S. teachers.

The national survey asked 1,015 new and veteran teachers their views on some of the most contentious issues in U.S. public education, like teacher evaluations and class size, to see if attitudes are shifting with an influx of newer teachers.

Despite differences in experience, teachers are generally united when it comes to working conditions. The majority of both newbies and veterans agree that class sizes should not be increased, even if doing so would provide districts with more funding to raising salaries. The two groups are also in agreement about keeping the school day shorter and said that increasing pay is key to elevating public respect for the profession.

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On the topic of teacher evaluations, though — one of the most highly debated issues in education reform — the two demographics have mostly differing views. They agree that current teacher evaluations are ineffective at improving instruction, but 71 percent of less experienced teachers say their evaluation should be tied to student test score growth, compared to only 41 percent of veteran teachers.

Those who began teaching in the last decade are also more supportive of changing compensation and tenure systems, and more likely to think the use of student data is important to teach more effectively.

Celine Coggins, founder and CEO of Teach Plus, said a new generation of teachers has been exposed to the magnitude of the achievement gap, which may influence their attitudes and their belief in the importance of data.

“Closing gaps among racial groups and across income levels motivates the commitment to teaching for so many,” Coggins said.

In 1987, the majority of teachers had 15 years of experience, according to a study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Now, with about half of new teachers leaving urban classrooms within three years, teachers with just one year of experience are the most common in U.S. classrooms. And each year, 200,000 new teachers enter the profession, 65 percent of whom are recent college graduates.

Mark Teoh, director of research and knowledge at Teach Plus, said that these new teachers were most likely students during or after the introduction of the No Child Left Behind Act in 2002, and said their attitudes show they are more accustomed to testing and accountability than their more experienced colleagues.

At a time when states are introducing the Common Core standards and new evaluation methods, Teoh says these shifting teacher attitudes could influence education reform, as policymakers hear “what kind of profession these teachers want to see, and what kind of workforce they want to be a part of.”

The report also highlights problems that come with a younger, less experienced teaching force. Teach Plus recommends including teacher opinion in policymaking and encouraging newer teachers to take on leadership roles.

“There’s definitely room and a hunger for these teachers to be part in the policy process itself,” Teoh said. “They’re the ones who are there all the time, and they can provide the feedback, guidance and perspective that [are] needed.”

Charting change: Numbers of teachers, years of experience

Chart from “Seven Trends: The Transformation of the Teaching Force,” by Richard Ingersoll and Lisa Merrill, May 2012. Click on image to enlarge.

What's Your Education Story?

As the 2018 school year begins, join us for storytelling from Indianapolis educators

PHOTO: Dylan Peers McCoy/Chalkbeat
Sarah TeKolste, right, and Lori Jenkins at a Teacher Story Slam, in April.

In partnership with Teachers Lounge Indy, Chalkbeat is hosting another teacher story slam this fall featuring educators from across the city.

Over the past couple of years, Chalkbeat has brought readers personal stories from teachers and students through the events. Some of our favorites touched on how a teacher won the trust of her most skeptical student, why another teacher decided to come out to his students, and one educator’s call to ramp up the number of students pursuing a college education.

The event, 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, is free and open to the public — please RSVP here.

Event details:

5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018
Tube Factory artspace
1125 Cruft St., Indianapolis, IN 46203
Get tickets here and find more on Facebook

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School safety

Hiring more security officers in Memphis after school shootings could have unintended consequences

PHOTO: Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Tennessee’s largest district, Shelby County Schools, is slated to add more school resource officers under the proposed budget for next school year.

Superintendent Dorsey Hopson earmarked $2 million to hire 30 school resource officers in addition to the 98 already in some of its 150-plus schools. The school board is scheduled to vote on the budget Tuesday.

But an increase in law enforcement officers could have unintended consequences.

A new state law that bans local governments from refusing to cooperate with federal immigration officials could put school resource officers in an awkward position.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen recently reminded school personnel they are not obligated to release student information regarding immigration status. School resource officers employed by police or sheriff’s departments, however, do not answer to school districts. Shelby County Schools is still reviewing the law, but school board members have previously gone on the record emphasizing their commitment to protecting undocumented students.

“Right now we are just trying to get a better understanding of the law and the impact that it may have,” said Natalia Powers, a district spokeswoman.

Also, incidents of excessive force and racial bias toward black students have cropped up in recent years. Two white Memphis officers were fired in 2013 after hitting a black student and wrestling her to the ground because she was “yelling and cussing” on school grounds. And mothers of four elementary school students recently filed a lawsuit against a Murfreesboro officer who arrested them at school in 2016 for failing to break up a fight that occurred off-campus.

Just how common those incidents are in Memphis is unclear. In response to Chalkbeat’s query for the number and type of complaints in the last two school years, Shelby County Schools said it “does not have any documents responsive to this request.”

Currently, 38 school resource officers are sheriff’s deputies, and the rest are security officers hired by Shelby County Schools. The officers respond and work to prevent criminal activity in all high schools and middle schools, Hopson said. The 30 additional officers would augment staffing at some schools and for the first time, branch out to some elementary schools. Hopson said those decisions will be based on crime rates in surrounding neighborhoods and school incidents.

Hopson’s initial recommendation for more school resource officers was in response to the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, that killed 17 people and sparked a wave of student activism on school safety, including in Memphis.

Gov. Bill Haslam’s recent $30 million budget boost would allow school districts across Tennessee to hire more law enforcement officers or improve building security. Measures to arm some teachers with guns or outlaw certain types of guns have fallen flat.

For more on the role and history of school resource officers in Tennessee, read our five things to know.

Sheriff’s deputies and district security officers meet weekly, said Capt. Dallas Lavergne of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office. When the Memphis Police Department pulled their officers out of school buildings following the merger of city and county school systems, the county Sheriff’s Office replaced them with deputies.

All deputy recruits go through school resource officer training, and those who are assigned to schools get additional annual training. In a 2013 review of police academies across the nation, Tennessee was cited as the only state that had specific training for officers deployed to schools.