Job satisfaction among public school principals and teachers has decreased in the past five years, with teacher satisfaction reaching its lowest levels in 25 years, according to survey results released Thursday. Only 39 percent of teachers reported being very satisfied in their job, and more than half said they felt under “great stress” several days a week, the 29th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found.
The findings come at a time when nearly every state around the country has adopted some sort of significant education reform in the past two years, including revising academic standards and implementing new teacher evaluation systems. Advocates say that many of these reforms, such as merit pay and the elimination of seniority-based layoffs, will help attract a higher-quality candidate to the profession.
But Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a nonprofit group that promotes higher academic standards, said he was concerned by the job satisfaction numbers and what they said about the general public’s view of educators. “What struck me most,” he said during a conference call hosted by MetLife to discuss the findings, is that “they are operating in an environment of public discourse that is often focused on blame.”
The survey also found that three-quarters of principals said that their job was too complex. “We’re asking principals to do a lot more with – at best – the same, or fewer resources,” Mel Riddile, an associate director at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said on the call. “They’re encountering a perfect storm of Common Core implementation, new teacher evaluations and state accountability systems.”
Both Riddile and Cohen stressed that full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, a new set of k-12 academic standards that 48 states have adopted, would be a huge shift for virtually all schools.
Ninety percent of principals and 93 percent of teachers reported that teachers in their schools had the skills necessary for implementing the new standards, according to the survey. They were less sure, however, of the impact Common Core would have. Just 22 percent of principals and 17 percent of teachers said they were very confident the standards would increase student performance.
“Different surveys produce different findings of how supportive teachers are of the standards,” Cohen said. “None of this is going to happen quickly. These are long term changes.”