The People Have Spoken: New Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll on U.S. Public Schools

The Annual Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup Poll released last month offers insight into Americans’ perceptions of U.S. public schools. The poll offers a number of interesting findings on the issue of talent management. Highlights from this year’s poll include:

  • TEACHER PAY – Almost three out of four Americans favor merit pay for teachers. Advanced degrees, student academic achievement, and administrator evaluations are the three most favored criteria for awarding merit pay. Americans estimate that teacher salaries are lower than what they believe teachers should receive. Americans also believe that beginning teachers with a bachelor’s degree and teaching certification should earn more than they are currently paid by their community’s schools. 
  • TENURE – Americans are split on teacher tenure, depending on how the question is asked. They disapprove of teachers having a “lifetime contract” but agree that teachers should have a formal legal review before being terminated.
  • ECONOMIC STIMULUS – Economic stimulus money should be used to retain teachers slated to be laid off, followed by support to the lowest performing schools.
  • TEACHER CERTIFICATION – Three out of four Americans believe we should have national standards for the certification of public school teachers.
  • TECHNICAL TEACHERS – Americans overwhelmingly favor increasing the number of scholarships to college students who agree to teach science, math, and other technical subjects, while only three out of 10 Americans approve relaxing certification requirements to allow more teachers to teach these technical subjects.

SMHC supports new ways to pay teachers, including incentives for teachers of STEM subjects and new approaches to teacher tenure. How we compensate teachers can have a significant impact on teacher recruitment and retention in subjects and schools with teacher shortages. SMHC research shows that schools need a strategic reward systems that is aligned with the needs and goals of the education system.  In setting pay levels, states and districts should consider how people are paid in comparable jobs outside of education. Additionally, to make teaching more attractive to young teachers and principals, states and districts should consider rewarding individuals for expertise and providing a fast track towards instructional leadership.

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