It’s no wonder so many teachers have low morale. They say that modern school reform — with its emphasis on getting rid of bad teachers, assessing teachers by student standardized test scores, and rewriting tenure and collective bargaining laws — essentially demonizes them.
Here are the major findings taken from the report, called “Challenges for School Leadership”:
Principals take responsibility for leadership of their schools.
*Nine in 10 (89%) principals say that ultimately a principal should be held accountable for everything that happens to the children in a school; 74% of teachers agree in 2012, compared with 60% in 1989.
The job of principal is becoming more complex and stressful.
* Three-quarters (75%) of principals feel the job has become too complex.
* Seven in 10 (69%) principals say the job responsibilities are not very similar to five years ago.
* Job satisfaction among principals has decreased nine percentage points in less than five years, to 59% very satisfied from 68% very satisfied in 2008.
* Half (48%) of principals feel under great stress several days a week.
* Only about four in 10 principals say they have a great deal of control over curriculum and instruction (42%), and making decisions about removing teachers (43%).
Teachers take leadership in schools and think principals are doing a good job.
* Half (51%) of teachers have a leadership role in their school, such as department chair, instructional resource, teacher mentor, or leadership team member.
* Half (51%) of teachers are at least somewhat interested in teaching in the classroom part-time combined with other roles or responsibilities in their school or district, including 23% who are extremely or very interested in this option.
* Eighty-five percent of teachers rate the job their principal is doing as excellent or pretty good.
* Nearly all principals (98%) rate the teachers in their school as doing an excellent or pretty good job.
* Most teachers (69%) say they are not at all interested in becoming a principal.
The biggest challenges leaders face are beyond the capacity of schools alone to address.
*More than half of principals (53%) and teachers (56%) report that their school’s budget has decreased in the past 12 months.
*Half (50%) of teachers and 40% of principals say managing the school budget and resources to meet school needs is very challenging; overall, 86% of teachers and 78% of principals say this is challenging or very challenging for school leaders.
*More than seven in 10 educators identify addressing the individual needs of diverse learners (83% of principals; 78% of teachers) and engaging parents and the community in improving education for students (72% of principals; 73% of teachers) as challenging or very challenging for school leaders.
Principals and teachers have similar views on academic challenges, but diverge somewhat on their priorities for leadership.
*A majority of educators say implementing the Common Core State Standards (67% of principals; 59% of teachers), creating and maintaining an academically rigorous environment (64% of principals; 62% of teachers), and evaluating teacher effectiveness (53% of principals; 56% of teachers) are challenging or very challenging.
* Principals are most likely to say it is very important for principals to be able to use data about student performance to improve instruction (85%) and to lead development of strong teaching capacity across the school (84%) to be an effective school leader.
Teachers are most likely to say it is very important for a principal to have been a classroom teacher (79%) and give less importance to leading the development of strong teaching capacity across the school (69%) and using data about student performance to improve instruction (53%).
Teacher satisfaction continues to decline.
*Teacher satisfaction has declined 23 percentage points since 2008, from 62% to 39% very satisfied, including five percentage points since last year, to the lowest level in 25 years.
*Half (51%) of teachers report feeling under great stress several days a week, an increase of 15 percentage points over 36% of teachers reporting that level in 1985.
*Less satisfied teachers are more likely than very satisfied teachers to be in schools where budgets declined in the last 12 months (61% vs. 47%) and to identify maintaining an adequate supply of effective teachers (58% vs. 43%) and creating and maintaining an academically rigorous learning environment (66% vs. 56%) as challenging or very challenging for school leaders.
*Less satisfied teachers are more likely to be located in schools that had declines in professional development (21% vs. 14%) and in time for collaboration with other teachers (29% vs. 16%) in the last 12 months.
*Nearly all teachers (97%) give high ratings to other teachers in their schools.
Challenges cited by educators are greater in high-needs schools.
*More principals find it challenging to maintain an adequate supply of effective teachers in urban schools (60% vs. 43% in suburban schools and 44% in rural schools) and in schools with two-thirds or more low-income students (58% vs. 37% in schools with one-third or fewer).
*Principals in schools with at least two-thirds low-income students are more likely than those with one-third or fewer to say that engaging parents and the community in improving the education of students (86% vs. 46%) is very challenging or challenging.
*Principals who feel great stress several days a week are more likely to work in schools where no more than some students are performing at or above grade level in English language arts or math (57% vs. 43% of those in schools where most students perform at or above grade level).
*In schools with at least two-thirds low-income students, 37% of principals and 27% of teachers say that most of their students are performing at or above grade level. In contrast, in schools with one-third or fewer low-income students, 91% of principals and 83% of teachers say that most of their students are achieving at this level.
*Teachers and principals in schools with more than two-thirds low-income students are less likely than those in schools with one-third or fewer low-income students to give their teachers an excellent rating (48% vs. 73% for teachers; and 51% vs. 75% for principals).
Educators are confident about implementing the Common Core, less so about its potential for increasing student success.
*Nine in 10 principals (93%) and teachers (92%) say they are knowledgeable about the Common Core.
* Nine in 10 principals (90%) and teachers (93%) believe that teachers in their schools already have the academic skills and abilities to implement the Common Core in their classrooms.
*Teachers and principals are more likely to be very confident that teachers have the ability to implement the Common Core (53% of teachers; 38% of principals) than they are very confident that the Common Core will improve the achievement of students (17% of teachers; 22% of principals) or better prepare students for college and the workforce (20% of teachers; 24% of principals).
*A majority of teachers (62%) and a smaller proportion of principals (46%) say teachers in their schools are already using the Common Core a great deal in their teaching this year.