NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Survey Finds Teachers Doubtful Of Their Abilities

January 29, 1999

Few public school teachers feel they are well qualified to teach in the modern classroom, according to a nationwide survey of more than 4,000 of them. The results of the survey are contained in a report issues by the U.S. Department of Education "Teacher Quality: A Report on the Preparation and Qualifications of Public School Teachers," January 28, 1999, National Center for Education Statistics, Wachington D.C.

  • Only 20 percent of those surveyed said they were confident in using modern technology or in working with students with disabilities or those from diverse backgrounds.
  • Just 28 percent said they felt very qualified to use student performance assessment techniques.
  • Less than half reported feeling very well prepared for the challenges facing public schools.

A spokeswoman for the American Federation of Teachers -- the nation's second largest teachers union -- said the report was "absolutely not" an indictment of teachers and blamed schools for not being supportive enough.

But Secretary of Education Richard W. Riley said the survey evinced "a cry for help."

Arthur Levine, president of Columbia Teachers College, called teacher quality "a huge issue," exacerbated by the fact that many teachers -- especially those in math, science and English as a second language -- have not been trained in the subjects they were hired to teach.

Sources: Laurie Lewis, et al., "Teacher Quality: A Report on the Preparation and Qualifications of Public School Teachers," January 28, 1999, National Center for Education Statistics, Wachington D.C.; William H. Honan, "Nearly Fifth of Teachers Say They Feel Unqualified," New York Times, January 29, 1999.

 

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