How do educators perceive policies in their state?

Laura Desimone
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

As part of our C-SAIL work, we are analyzing surveys from state-representative samples of districts, and principals and teachers within those districts. Here I will discuss select findings for Texas and Ohio. We asked district leaders, principals and teachers to assess their policy environment based on the five following policy attributes: (1) consistency, (2) specificity, (3) authority, (4) power, and (5) stability.

The figures below show the results for Texas and Ohio. We wanted to see if there were meaningful and significant differences between how different educators with different roles perceived their state’s policy landscape.

We found these patterns across both states:

  1. Teachers perceived significantly lower authority but higher power for state college- and career-readiness standards, compared to principals and district leaders.
  2. Teachers reported lower stability of standards compared to principals.

These results suggest that teachers have less buy-in (authority) to the standards than principals or district leaders. But, we know from previous waves of reform, that authority is an important contributor to implementation. When buy-in and motivation are high, implementation is more likely to be high-quality and to last. Still, scores are moderate—teachers are not reporting extremely low levels of authority, but just rather modest ones.

Teachers also feel the pressure of rewards and sanctions (power) associated with standards implementation more so than do principals and district leaders. This may not be surprising since teachers are on the front lines in the classrooms, and many of the standards-focused initiatives are looking to teachers to foster improvements in teaching and learning.

Teachers also view that standards are less stable than principals think they are, which may be a reflection of teachers’ less optimistic view of the longevity of policies. Given that stability is also linked to better implementation, having teachers view this wave of standards as temporary could interfere with strong implementation.

Teachers view standards As less stable than principals think they are, which may be a reflection of teachers’ less optimistic view of the longevity of policies. 

Despite significant differences across these respondent groups, most response averages hovered in the moderate range – reflecting that both state policy environments have room to improve across the five policy attributes, but have established reasonable levels of specificity, authority, consistency, power and stability.

Later we will examine how teachers of different subjects and student groups – math, English language arts, students with disabilities, and English language learners – differ in their views of the policy environment.