Teachers Should Be Apprentices For A Year, Poll Finds

Sep 16, 2014

University of Central Florida elementary education students discuss how to incorporate books, maps, magazines and other materials into lesson plans in this 2013 photo.
Credit John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

A strong majority of Americans surveyed want teachers to have at least one year's practice time in the classroom and pass a board certification before teaching, according to a new national poll.

The Phi Delta Kappa professional teacher's organization and Gallup released a second batch of their annual survey data Tuesday. The poll surveyed 1,001 adults by phone and has a margin of error of 4.6 percent.

"It appears we've reached a real turning point in public attitudes," said William Bushaw, chief executive officer of PDK International. "While we can speculate about all the factors that brought us here, there's no longer any question about whether the public supports a major overhaul in the preparation and evaluation of teachers."

Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed said they trust teachers. And seven in 10 said they oppose the use of standardized tests to evaluate teachers.

But 43 percent surveyed said teachers should have a year of practice time under a certified teacher before taking over a classroom. Another 30 percent said teachers needed two years of practice time.

And 83 percent of those surveyed said teachers should have to pass a board certification, similar to what doctors or lawyers take, in order to be licensed. Currently, most teachers don't earn national board certification until after they've taught at least a few years. Teachers aren't required to earn national board certification.

The poll also found strong majorities supported using teacher evaluations to help teachers improve, determine pay and bonuses and determine which teachers should be dismissed.

Americans are split on whether their elementary, middle and high schools need to change more quickly and whether they favor schools educating undocumented immigrants, as required by law.

You can see the full results of the poll and the first batch of this year's PDK/Gallup survey on its website. The PDK/Gallup poll is the longest-running national education survey. This is its 46th year.