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Survey: Students Perceive Teachers as Uncaring

A national report released this week, based on survey results from 57,883 students in grades 6-12, finds that only slightly over half of students feel that their teachers care about them.

The survey was Conducted by the Pearson Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the commercial education company, and the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations, a nonprofit focused on student motivation. (In an unrelated matter, incidentally, the Pearson Foundation has received flack recently for potential conflicts of interest.) It offers a variety of interesting findings on students' perceptions about teachers, learning, and the school environment. Here are some salient ones about teacher-student relationships:

• 54 percent of students say that they have a teacher they can talk to if they have a problem.
• 47 percent of students believe their teachers care if they are absent from school.
• 41 percent of students say students respect teachers, while 61 percent say that teachers respect students.
• 61 percent say teachers recognize them when they try their best.
• 39 percent say teachers make school exciting
• 45 percent say teachers have fun at school
• 50 percent say teachers are willing to learn from students

The results are, well, somewhat dismal. As the report states, "Surely, most teachers truly believe they respect their students, but the extent to which students perceive this as true is cause for concern. For a relatively high number of students, that message has clearly not been adequately conveyed ... and here, as throughout this report, perception is reality."

When considered in light of the recent MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, which found that teacher satisfaction has plummeted, the results are even more concerning. In fact, the combination of opinions from teachers and students convey an image of school as a pretty depressing place.

Do the findings in these surveys jibe with your experience? Do they illustrate a need for drastic change, or (in the case the one on student perspectives) perpetual, perhaps inevitable misunderstandings between students and teachers?

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