Policymakers and educators frequently use teacher perception surveys to inform state and local school improvement efforts. However, a new REL Northwest study of Idaho schools working on school improvement suggests that such surveys should be used with caution.
The study, Connections Between Teacher Perceptions of School Effectiveness and Student Outcomes in Idaho’s Low-Achieving Schools, analyzed the relationship between responses on the Educational Effectiveness Survey (EES) and three measures of student performance. The EES is used widely in the Northwest region and is similar to other teacher perception surveys used nationally. The analysis showed that higher teacher reports of the presence of goals, processes, and supports believed necessary for school success were not generally linked to higher rates of reading proficiency, math proficiency, or attendance rates.
Data from teacher perception surveys such as the EES can be valuable to get a snapshot of teachers’ views of school culture and organizational health and to start conversations about improving the climate. But, educators and others should take caution when using surveys like the EES to predict student achievement and as the sole basis for making school improvement and accountability decisions.
- Principal Investigator Caitlin Scott
Scott notes that her study did not examine teacher perception surveys’ uses other than the EES survey’s relationship to student achievement nor did the research make any claims about whether changes in school goals, processes, and supports result in changes in student outcomes. The study was conducted with teachers only from low-performing Idaho schools, and findings should not be generalized to other schools.
The study, released by the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, adds to the knowledge base about teacher perception surveys and also addresses specific questions from the Idaho State Department of Education.
REL Northwest at Education Northwest carried out the study as part of its work as one of 10 regional educational laboratories funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences.