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MetLife Survey Has Significant Implications for PD

Today MetLife published the first of two reports from its 2010 MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Preparing Students for College and Careers. The report, titled Clearing the Path, shows that a substantial majority of teachers, parents, and Fortune 1000 executives believe that one of the nation's highest priorities in education should be preparing secondary students for college and career success.

The professional development implications for this are significant. Despite overall agreement among parents, teachers, and executives on the value of college- and career-readiness, the survey also reveals their disagreement about strategies for achieving it.

According to the survey, teachers place high priority on strengthening programs to help diverse learners with the highest needs meet college- and career-ready standards. Teachers in schools with more than two-thirds minority students are more likely than those in schools with one-third or fewer minority students to support common core standards.

Teachers are not backing away from their commitment to ensure that all students meet college- and career-ready standards. We need to continue to listen to what teachers say they need to be successful in meeting these standards.

Students and parents report that establishing college-going school cultures appears to make the most difference in predicting student success. Schools with such cultures excel at preparing students in core subjects as well as the interdisciplinary areas that build global awareness. Unfortunately, most schools with college-going cultures serve students who traditionally are more successful. These schools tend to include fewer diverse and low-income students, or English language learners.

Creating a culture of high expectations, where all educators take collective responsibility for all students, is central to improved student learning. The 2009 MetLife survey revealed an expectation gap between teachers and students with regard to college readiness and success. A high percentage of students (79%) reported planning to attend a two- or four-year college, while teachers expected only 50% to attend. One year later, teachers report that 64% of their students will graduate from high school ready for college without the need for remedial coursework. While there is a slight increase in teachers' expectations for student success, there remains a significant gap between what students and teachers expect will happen and what parents and Fortune 1000 business leaders expect.

Revisiting teachers' views from last year's survey about teacher collaboration and professional development provides insights into the strategies and resources teachers need to ensure that all students graduate from high school college- and career-ready.

The second part of this year's MetLife survey, to be released on March 23, will shed additional light on teachers' views on how to best address the needs of students with diverse learning needs.

Stephanie Hirsh
Executive Director, Learning Forward

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