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How Much Planning and Collaboration Time Are Teachers Getting?

Teachers are generally getting 45 minutes or an hour of planning time per day, but few places are specifically setting aside time for collaboration with other teachers, according to a new analysis of large school districts. 

The National Council on Teacher Quality digs into its teacher contract database each month to find trends in district policies that affect teachers. The group looks at the 100 largest school districts as well as the largest district in every state, for a total of 124 districts. 

This month's analysis shows that about half of those districts give elementary teachers an average of 45 minutes of planning time per day, and another 16 percent give elementary teachers an hour. Four percent of districts give elementary teachers an average of just 15 minutes of planning. 

For high school teachers, about a third of districts give them 45 minutes of planning, and another third give them a class period (which is generally just under an hour). 

Teacher Planning Time NCTQ.png

As the NCTQ analysis notes, this doesn't quite tell the whole story. Districts allot their planning time differently—some do so by the week rather than by the day. For instance, the Jordan school district in Utah gives teachers an hour-and-40-minute block of planning every Friday, but that only works out to 20 minutes a day (and is rounded down to 15 for this chart). 

Time to Collaborate

It's a common refrain from teachers: We need more time to collaborate. But as the NCTQ analysis shows, the majority of teacher contracts in large districts don't mention collaboration at all. 

Only about 17 percent of districts require time specifically for collaboration. Some say teachers can use their own time to collaborate or leave it up to the principal whether any time is set aside. A few mention collaboration vaguely. But about two-thirds of the teacher contracts in large districts say nothing about it at all. 

Teacher Collaborative Time NCTQ.png

Education researcher Linda Darling-Hammond and others have argued that teachers in some of the highest-performing countries, such as Finland and Singapore, view teaching as a "team sport," and give teachers dedicated time to learn from each other. 

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