Ed Tech | Research

Amid Economic Uncertainty, Educational Technology and Materials Fall Behind

Schools with large minority populations, those in urban areas, and those experiencing recent teacher layoffs are significantly more likely than the national average to have technology and learning resources that are too outdated to meet student needs, according to the results of a national education survey published this week.

Overall, according to the report, one-third (34 percent) of public school teachers who participated in the survey reported that the technology and learning materials in their schools have not been "kept up to date to meet student learning needs." But that figure varies widely when broken down by area type, demographics, and budget conditions.

The report, "The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy," involved input from 1,001 K-12 public school teachers in the United States in late 2011. The parent and student portions of the survey included 1,086 parents aged 21 or older with children in public K-12 schools. The student survey involved 947 American students in grades 3 through 12 aged 8 to 18. The survey was conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of MetLife.

In urban areas, 43 percent of teachers reported that technology and educational materials have not been kept up to date to meet student needs versus 30 percent in suburban areas and 33 percent in rural areas. Those in urban areas were also significantly more likely to report that their school facilities were not being "kept in clean or good condition"--30 percent in urban areas versus 16 percent in suburbs.

By demographic makeup, teachers in schools with high minority populations (two-thirds or greater) were more likely to report out-of-date learning tools, 39 percent versus 31 percent. However, according to the researchers, there was no significant difference in responses based on low-income or ELL population sizes.

In schools with teacher layoffs in the last year, 43 percent of teachers reported out-of-date educational resources and equipment versus 27 percent of those whose schools had not experienced recent layoffs. In schools where budgets have decreased, 39 percent of teachers reported out-of-date materials versus 22 percent in schools with stable budgets.

The survey also found that in schools where teachers expressed low job satisfaction, technology and learning materials were lacking, with 39 percent reporting outdated resources versus 28 percent among teachers who expressed high job satisfaction. Teachers with low job satisfaction were also more likely to indicate poor conditions for their facilities or grounds, 26 percent versus 14 percent.

Other findings from the survey included:

  • Financial concerns affected large percentages of parents and students in the survey period, with 72 percent of surveyed parents and 65 percent of surveyed students saying they "worry about their family not having enough money for the things they need, and 62 percent of parents and 54 percent of students worry about the parents’ losing or not being able to find a job";
  • Nearly two-thirds of teachers (64 percent) reported an increase in the number of students and families needing "health and social support services" in the last year;
  • A significant 43 percent of teachers and 39 percent of parents reported pessimism about any potential improvements in student achievement over the next five years;
  • But, on the positive side, parent involvement in education seems to have increased over the last two-and-a-half decades, with 64 percent of students now reporting they talk to their parents about school each day (compared with 40 percent in 1988) and 46 percent of parents now saying they visit their kids' schools at least once a month (compared with 16 percent in 1988).

The latest edition of "The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher" is freely available online. The new report, along with archived reports dating back to 1984, can be accessed on MetLife's corporate citizenship portal or downloaded directly as a PDF.

About the Author

David Nagel is the former editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal, STEAM Universe, and Spaces4Learning. A 30-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art, marketing, media, and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/davidrnagel/ .