OESIS Independent School Teacher Survey Report 2022: Executive Summary | Research Team | 6 Min Read

September 13, 2022

The OESIS Independent School Teacher Survey Report 2022, written by OESIS President Sanje Ratnavale, will be released shortly. In the interim, the Intrepid Ed News Research Team is providing a summary and comments that will give you an idea of just how revealing and groundbreaking the information from the survey is. Some of the most important conclusions are:

  1. There are some very important nuances for DEI teams regarding how teachers are thinking about the alignment of their roles with those of DEI teams.
  2. There is important information for HR officers and Deans of Faculty to consider in the faculty recruitment process.
  3. The results should inform those in charge of professional development on what is emerging about teachers’ views on the nature of knowledge, the importance of critical thinking, and summative vs. formative assessment and feedback.

Summary

(Part 3 – Executive Summary in the actual report)

The OESIS National Independent School Teacher Survey collected data in June 2022 from 343 teachers: 207 total schools from 29 states were represented by these teachers; 95% were independent schools, 20% had religious affiliations, 20% were boarding, and 17% were single-sex. A broad distribution of teachers by discipline was represented with typically 60-70 in each subject except the Arts and in the Elementary Grades.

This survey was designed to obtain information about the core beliefs of teachers at independent schools. This survey clarifies teachers’ attitudes regarding the purposes of childhood and school, beliefs about student assessment and knowledge, and gets to the heart of teaching and learning. The respondents did not know which of their answers (they were given a choice of 4 to rank in order of importance for each question) related to which overall educational ideology. This survey was designed by Michael Stephen Schiro, author of Curriculum Theory, Conflicting Visions & Enduring Concerns (2nd Edition, Sage Publications). The questions were developed by Professor Schiro as a way of identifying the views of teachers and relating them to the 4 broad ideologies that have dominated American education in the last 150 years: 

  • The Scholar Academic ideology focuses on the cultural transmission of knowledge and truth within the disciplines. 
  • The Social Efficiency ideology focuses on preparing students with the skills and knowledge to serve useful, productive, and prosperous lives as adults. 
  • The Learner-Centered ideology focuses on the growth and self-actualization of the individual through experience and the meanings they are able to construct from their environments. 
  • The Social Reconstruction (Social Justice) ideology focuses on using education to build a fairer and more just society through social values rather than personal, normative, or objective values. 

Here are the key findings of the Report:

  1. Dominant Ideologies

Among the teachers surveyed, Learner-Centered is the leading belief system regarding educational practice (see chart below). However, the data suggests that only 20% of responding teachers have fully embraced the Learner-Centered ideology although another 20% are moving in that direction. 46% of those teachers whose beliefs strongly correlated with Learner-Centered beliefs (36% of our total sample) came from just two states: California and New York. For schools developing a strategic plan for teacher recruitment, this is important data.  Also interesting is that literally no teacher in our sample picked 5 or 6 questions that aligned with Social Regeneration/Justice, which counters the narrative circulating in some journalistic circles that the independent school teacher base has gone “woke” and pushing a social agenda.

Our sample included 11% of teachers that identified as non-white or non-European American. 

For schools developing a strategic plan for teacher recruitment, the above summary includes important data.

  1. Purpose of Schools

There was a clear misalignment of the responses between what teachers viewed as the purpose of schools and the goals of teaching, learning, knowledge construction, childhood, and assessment. The first chart below for the first question on School Purpose shows a significant adherence to Social Reconstruction (Justice), but the second chart that aggregates all the first choice responses in the other 5 questions/topics shows that this does not translate into actual teaching practice.

For anyone who is a teacher or knows independent school teachers, this divergence is no surprise. Teachers see their craft as very separate from the overall school experience for which they are responsible (emphasizing their independence). All the rest of the programmatic elements that revolve around schooling from advisories, assemblies, community events, field trips, athletics, and the like are often seen as less important but must be accommodated in the totality of the school experience. School initiatives centering on diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice have traditionally played in the extracurricular areas, even though course content has shifted to some extent. As we have written about extensively, this is a governance alignment issue because it means that the classroom experience is not always in sync with the school’s mission and goals. This misalignment is part of our concerns about the 50-year governance ethos around the dominance of mission propagated by management gurus like Jim Collins, Peter Drucker, NAIS, ICAISA, and accreditation organizations.

Similarly, for the parents who are concerned that schools are going down a woke path, these results would suggest that a large element of the delivery mechanism of a school—the teachers—are not seeing DEIJ as the highest priority. They are quite possibly paying lip service to the policies that are assumed to be creating a more DEIJ-based environment or they have always considered inclusion, equity, and justice as embedded curricular issues that have simply been amplified by a wave of new awareness. Their focus is on what they have always considered the real stuff: teaching and learning within the core curriculum.

We have learned the lesson of substandard or failed programs over the years and our recommendation to schools undertaking any initiative is to find a capacity-building, rather than a programmatic, strategy that truly aligns with what the school values—whether that’s called a mission or something else. That capacity building is an emotional and social construct that aligns with teaching and learning beliefs in the form of student and teacher competencies. OESIS Baltimore and our partnership with Six Seconds on emotional intelligence are centered on this approach. This data, then, was actually reassuring for our position.

  1. Trajectories of Innovation

The Full Report further details all the survey data around teaching & learning, attitudes regarding childhood, learning, and assessment, and provides a picture of the likely trajectories of innovation. 

The current education system is firmly on the left side of the quadrants—Scholar Academic and Social Efficiency, serving as they do the needs and expectations of colleges. Many of the innovations have predominated in the Social Efficiency quadrant. The rankings in this survey would indicate that the likely trajectory will not take place by movement first into Social Reconstruction/Justice but into Learner-Centered. The teacher base is getting ready albeit slowly for such a transition, hampered by the embedded barriers of Social Efficiency innovation in the form of, inter alia, tight scope and sequence. 

Get a copy of the Full Survey Report at no cost: OESIS Network schools can reach out to OESIS staff to get a full copy of the Report as well as the data breakdown by discipline—there were typically 60+ teachers in each discipline responding.

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IEN Research Team

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