It’s one (commendable) thing for states to prioritize access to high-quality instructional materials and training for educators – but it’s another (even more commendable) thing to track and study how those priorities are actually showing up in classrooms. That requires hearing from educators who do or do not use those resources, and not every state collects or shares this information. That’s why I’m so impressed by Tennessee’s recent Tennessee Educator Survey results, which include a deep dive into teachers’ beliefs about curriculum and professional learning quality, among several other topics.
Conducted in partnership with the Tennessee Education Research Alliance at Vanderbilt University, this voluntary annual survey gathers feedback on key issues in education. By my count, the most recent survey asked teachers over 20 questions about their experiences with their district’s curriculum and professional learning. Tennessee has built a strong foundation for district-level work by curating a list of state-approved high-quality instructional materials and prioritizing state support for implementation – so it must be gratifying for state leaders to see results like these:
- When asked how well their district’s ELA curriculum addresses learning standards, 87% of teachers said it addresses all or some of the standards. Only 4% said they primarily create or use different ELA curricula than the one their district provides – perhaps in part because the majority of teachers said the ELA curriculum is easy to use.
- The majority of math teacher respondents were supportive of their district’s curriculum as well; 88% said it’s aligned to state standards, 73% said it’s easy to use and 63% said they are able to deliver high-quality lessons by using the math curriculum as designed.
- 87% of teachers (regardless of subject) said their professional learning has been closely aligned to the instructional materials that have been adopted by their district frequently (46%) or sometimes (41%) and 83% said the training has led to improvements in their teaching frequently (36%) or sometimes (47%).
These numbers are in stark contrast to national figures around teacher experiences with curriculum, which show 70% of teachers lack access to high-quality materials and can spend up to 12 hours per week piecing together lessons on their own. And Tennessee’s survey results can be viewed at the district and school levels where participation rates allow – which means local leaders can examine teacher perceptions of curriculum selection and implementation to examine differences between progress with ELA and math, for example, and to identify areas where more support is needed.
Kudos to Tennessee for such a strong, ongoing commitment to support local practices (learn more about these efforts by clicking on the Volunteer State on our map), and to collect and report data about how it’s going. I hope other states follow suit.