Putting Education Reform To The Test

Americans Want Higher Standards, More Training For Teachers

University of Central Florida elementary education students discuss how to incorporate books, maps, magazines and other materials into lesson plans.

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

University of Central Florida elementary education students discuss how to incorporate books, maps, magazines and other materials into lesson plans in this 2013 photo.

A strong majority of Americans surveyed want teachers to have at least one year’s practice time in the classroom and pass a board certification before teaching, according to a new national poll.

The Phi Delta Kappa professional teacher’s organization and Gallup released a second batch of their annual survey data Tuesday. The poll surveyed 1,001 adults by phone and has a margin of error of 4.6 percent.

“It appears we’ve reached a real turning point in public attitudes,” said William Bushaw, chief executive officer of PDK International. “While we can speculate about all the factors that brought us here, there’s no longer any question about whether the public supports a major overhaul in the preparation and evaluation of teachers.”

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they trust teachers. And seven in ten said they oppose the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers.

But 43 percent surveyed said teachers should have a year of practice time under a certified teacher before taking over a classroom. Another 30 percent said teachers needed two years of practice time.

And 83 percent of those surveyed said teachers should have to pass a board certification, similar to what doctors or lawyers take, in order to be licensed. Currently, most teachers don’t earn national board certification until after they’ve taught at least a few years. Teachers aren’t required to earn national board certification.

The poll also found strong majorities supported using teacher evaluations to help teachers improve, determine pay and bonuses and determine which teachers should be dismissed.

Americans are split on whether their elementary, middle and high schools need to change more quickly and whether they favor schools educating illegal immigrants, as required by law.

You can see the full results of the poll here. For the first batch of this year’s PDK/Gallup survey, click here.The PDK/Gallup poll is the longest-running national education survey. This is its 46th year.


  • Sharon P. Robinson

    The PDK/Gallup poll report highlights the increasing value Americans place on high-quality, effective teacher preparation.

    Hundreds of preparation programs are already making significant strides in addressing issues such as the quality of instruction, in-classroom experience and the certification processes for teacher trainees, echoing the priorities of those surveyed. Arizona State University’s iTeachAZ program, for example, is preparing graduates who are valued by employers statewide thanks to their focus on content knowledge mastery, clinical practice and data-driven instruction.

    Sixty percent of Americans believe that the entrance requirements for teacher preparation programs should be more rigorous. AACTE’s own research points to the need to not only improve recruitment efforts but also set a high bar for entry into the profession at the point of licensure, based on multiple measures and including a performance assessment. What many may not realize is that students who enter undergraduate teacher preparation programs actually have an average GPA of 3.24 (and the average is higher for postbaccalaureate programs).

    Mirroring the priority placed on in-school experience by 70% of poll respondents, these institutions are focused on equipping candidates with a level of clinical practice that will catalyze their success in the classroom. Many educator preparation programs have established year-long residencies through the federal Teacher Quality Partnership Program created through the Higher Education Act to help accomplish this goal.

    AACTE and our member institutions are proud to serve our nation’s school system with a continuous focus on rigorous, hands-on and effective teacher preparation programs that reflect the public’s rightful prioritization of this critical issue.

    Sharon P. Robinson

    President/CEO, AACTE: American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education

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