“The New Majority”

Last year I noticed that I, at the lofty age of 30-something, was one of the oldest teachers in my building. I chalked it up to teaching at a charter school which often have a young teaching force but the graph above shows young teachers are what Teach Plus calls the “new majority.”

Teach Plus recently released a new report that compares the perspectives and opinions of the new majority to those of teachers with 11+ years of experience. The findings are both intuitive as well as surprising. Below is a table that highlights issues where both sets of teachers – the new majority as well as experienced teachers – strongly agreed with one another on survey questions.

 

What I found interesting here is that both groups of teachers believe there needs to be a clear and measurable standard for excellent teaching; however, they also both believe current evaluation systems are not getting the job done. Another critical agreement is class size. Although some research shows class size technically has no impact on student achievement (particularly at the secondary level) teachers clearly agree size does matter. Even more interesting are the areas where the new majority and experienced teachers disagree:

 

These shifts seem to line up with changing education policy and certainly are a nice validation for the Race to the Top stipulations.  Regardless of the merit or challenges associated with policies like linking student growth to teach evaluation, I think this study shows an eagerness on the part of new teachers – now the majority of teachers – to see our profession reinvented. Unfortunately, we also know the new majority exist in part because three out of every five new teachers quit within the first five years of teaching. Clearly we have a unique window of opportunity with this young, open-minded teaching force (this is not to say those of us with 11+ years are not open-minded!!) however we should be careful to advocate for policies that both raise the bar for our profession as well as keep teachers in the classroom.

New majority teachers what would keep you in the classroom for the next decade?

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One thought on ““The New Majority”

  1. This is very interesting. Before I came back around and really engaged in K-12 ed again, I knew “The New Majority” as the name for a similar, but different group: adjuncts at universities (http://www.newfacultymajority.info/equity/).

    What strikes me about all this is that it means that as children move through K-12, their teachers, as a whole, are less experienced teachers. Are they as effective? I don’t know.

    Then we send them to university, where more and more students are having to take remedial courses that often don’t even apply for a degree. (cha-ching!) AND, at some schools up to 70% of the course hours are taught by adjuncts.

    Not that adjuncts aren’t qualified in some way – I adjunct. I enjoy it a lot. The problem is, I’m not on campus. I don’t have time to do the collegial things that professors are supposed to do with students. No one can just wander into my office. I don’t get to chat with colleagues.

    All together, I wonder what sort of education is really being offered to kids today. Are they getting effective teachers at lower grades? Reports postulate that the “unreadiness” of incoming freshman is because more and more of the population goes to college – but WHY aren’t those kids ready? And what is the effect of the relatively unavailable adjunct faculty on a university education?

    Hmm. Interesting.

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