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April 1, 2013
Vol. 70
No. 7

ASCD Community in Action

What EL Readers Think

Editors like to think of themselves as mind readers. They regularly delve deeply into articles they edit, grappling with what the writer said and what he or she may have meant to say. They have to know when to give a writer space and when to wield the delete function. For no matter how sympathetic to authors they are, editors must always be thinking of their readers. What does the "typical reader" want to read? What makes him or her stop reading?
That's why a readership survey is a helpful tool. It gets an editor more in touch with who readers are and how they want their magazine to change or not change. When we recently asked a random sample of readers about EL, we found an amazing group willing to give us a piece of their mind. Here's what we learned from the 2012 EL Readers Survey:

You read EL thoroughly.

Despite being very busy people, the mean time you spend reading an issue of EL is 1.3 hours, much higher than the 49 minutes that is the norm for average business publications—and up from the 1.2 hours readers spent in 2009.

You are an influential and diverse group.

EL readers are principals, administrators, teachers, professors, and students. You represent most subjects and all levels from pre-K through higher education. Eighty-two percent of you are involved in purchasing education products, especially textbooks and professional books. In response to what you read in EL, nearly every one of you (97 percent) "take an action"; for example, you discuss, share, or save an article, or you implement a strategy or program. The EL pass-along rate is a whopping 3.5 per issue, perhaps reflecting the ease of sharing articles from the digital issue.

You like the length and number of articles, but you are willing to try new formats.

Ninety-one percent of you believe the article length is just right; 88 percent say the number of articles is just right; and 83 percent report the number of issues is on target, with 12 percent wanting more issues per year. The primary way you read EL is in print (87 percent), but 34 percent of you have read EL articles online. A number of you believe you will be likely to read EL on a tablet, computer, or e-reader in the coming years.

You value EL.

Fifty percent of you say EL is much better than other publications you read, and another 34 percent rate it somewhat better, higher than our 2009 ratings. Mean scores for positive statements about EL's up-to-dateness, trustworthiness, readability, relevance, and multiple points of view are also high, all ranging from 9.2 to 8.3 on a 10-point scale.
Some of your highest praise is in the open-ended remarks commenting on strengths:
<BQ> "Other journals provide a more theoretical, research voice on the issues. Ed Leadership talks teacher to teacher, with a research base." "Articles by people working in education, as opposed to politicians or theorists, lend EL much more credence and make it a valuable read. I get many of my teaching ideas from the articles also." "The unifying theme is an excellent organizing tool. It allows each issue to become a kind of reference text. When I want to help someone with a particular area of concern, I can almost hand over the whole magazine and let them find their access point." "I absolutely love that the articles (1) reflect current issues; (2) are written by real people who are experts and/or practitioners; (3) are a user-friendly length and are written in plain English." "The September 2012 issue ("Feedback for Learning") hit it out of the ballpark. When you publish articles by authors like Dylan Wiliam, Grant Wiggins, Sue Brookhart, and Cris Tovani, I feel like I am learning from the best." </BQ>
And finally,

You see room for improvement.

You also suggested you want "more": more coverage of topics most relevant to your role, more social studies, more international articles, more research, more math, more special education, more on motivation, more on 21st century skills.
Here are a few of your specific recommendations:
"Being an international subscriber, I would like to see more international perspectives. This would also help the debate within the United States.""As a Canadian, the American focus on NCLB and Common Core can be distracting, but I totally understand its significance in the larger picture.""Add more emphasis on research, including more detailed but still educator-friendly reviews of important issues. Add more emphasis on evidence.""I would love to see more on districts that are setting new trends that follow research on good education practice.""Could there be a one- or two-page summary of all the key ideas in the issue that could easily be shared with administrators or teachers?""Find me the time to sit and read it.""Have you thought of … free chocolate chip cookies?"

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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