For many teachers, news coverage of education seems to be unrelentingly negative. they assert this is often particularly noticeable in reporting of results of standardized tests like NAPLAN and therefore the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), which seems to put most of the blame for perceived problems on them.
Australian students have reportedly been falling behind many other countries in literacy and numeracy within the PISA tests, for years. The results are nuanced, but the reporting often isn’t. as an example , Australia’s score in science in PISA 2015 was 510, significantly above the OECD average of 493. But the reports tend to specialise in areas where we’ve fallen behind than other countries, instead of where Australia may have done well.
There is constant anxiety our education system goes downhill and wishes urgent improvement.
In my interviews with Australian schoolteachers, most of the participants accepted standardized testing was necessary. But they opposed the results of NAPLAN testing being released thanks to the inevitable comparisons of student progress and schools within the related news coverage.
A growing body of research from Australia and overseas suggests teachers’ perceptions about education news are justified. Education news focuses on student discipline, teacher quality, comparisons of testing results and standards. of these subjects tend to be framed negatively.
While individual success stories of scholars , teachers or schools are celebrated, they’re usually portrayed because the exception.
What teachers say
In my 2017 study, I interviewed 25 teachers from around Australia about their perceptions of stories reporting of education—88% of participants considered it to be predominantly negative.
A teacher from a Queensland public school acknowledged that from “time to time” excellent news stories about schools did appear but said most the coverage was “shock, horror, check out of these dreadful things that are happening within the establishment .”
The mostly negative portrayal presented in major metropolitan news outlets was unfair and inaccurate, consistent with the teachers, and therefore the positive elements attended be overlooked.
One used the reporting of testing results as an example: “When the NAPLAN data was published our federal minister had quite lot of fabric published about how we were slipping down the league tables, but when our 15 year-olds were rated the fifth top all rounders [in the PISA tests] […] that hardly got a squeak.”
Several participants mentioned the prevalence of stories coverage that portrayed teachers as low achievers. “We continually hear about low entrance scores to urge into teaching. We continually hear about teacher under-performance.”
Some of those interviewed believed teachers were treated differently to other professionals in news coverage, and were subjected to greater scrutiny and pressure. “What I do every day is questioned at every level,” one teacher said.
A particular frustration associated with news coverage that didn’t capture truth nature of up to date teaching. A principal argued there was “an absolute failure” on the a part of the journalism to acknowledge the complexity of teachers’ work. She said: “Teachers aren’t getting to school, they’re getting to work and it’s highly complex and highly technological.”
Other Australian research has found some teachers have named misleading and negative reporting of education as an element in their decision to quit teaching.
Parents feel an equivalent way
Our new research has found some Australian parents share teachers’ views. Of the survey group of 268 teachers and 206 parents, 85% of teachers and 74% of oldsters considered news coverage of the Australian education system to be generally negative.
Half of the oldsters surveyed reported feeling demoralized by such reporting. For teachers, that figure increased to 81%.
Significantly, we also found positive news are often inspiring. Around 64% of both teachers and fogeys reported they feel inspired “quite a bit” or “a lot” once they encounter a positive news article about teachers, schools or the education system.
All of this points to a requirement for more balanced, contextualized and fair news coverage of faculties and teachers.
While it’s not the role of reporters to appease teachers, the evidence about the predominantly negative nature of education news and teachers’ concerns about superficial and inaccurate coverage should be taken under consideration . And it can just be a matter of shifting the angle.
Readers turned off by negative news
There also are sound commercial reasons for rethinking the approach to reporting education. In covering education, news editors are getting to appeal to the high numbers of oldsters among their audiences.
Our research suggests parents have an interest in education news. But they’ll be less likely to interact the more negative it’s . we all know from other research that the foremost common reason people avoid news is because it’s a negative impact on mood.
So, if editors want to draw in readers with education news, coverage that has more positive elements could achieve more success.