NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Study Shows New Teachers Enthusiastic, But Lack Discipline Skills

May 24, 2000

A survey conducted by Public Agenda has found that teachers on the job five years or less are committed and enthusiastic -- but they are unprepared for classroom realities and the challenges of teaching unmotivated and poorly prepared students.

  • The survey found 96 percent of new public school teachers love their work, while 98 percent of school administrators said most recent recruits are highly motivated and energetic.
  • But 60 percent of new public school teachers say most in their ranks take over classrooms without enough experience -- with 56 percent criticizing their preparatory programs for emphasizing education theory at the expense of education in practical classroom challenges.
  • Among school administrators surveyed, only 44 percent say new teachers have the skills to maintain orderly classrooms and 68 percent fault preparation programs for not teaching discipline techniques enough.
  • While three-quarters of new teachers complain of being seriously underpaid, 86 percent say they would choose a school with well-behaved students and supportive parents over one where they would earn a significantly higher salary.

Public Agenda says the survey should give some comfort to those concerned by a predicted teacher shortage, since it shows "a very high level of commitment" by people who have been in the trenches a few years.

Source: Tamara Henry, "New Teachers Are Passionate But Unprepared," USA Today, May 24, 2000.


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