Teacher job satisfaction at 25-year low

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.”

POSTED BY ON February 21, 2013

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Gordon S. Hale

Teacher job satisfaction might be lessened through connections to academic professional association/organizations which function as a support system as well as enlightening about research and best practices that might make the job of teaching and learning more effective. Teachers as a whole do not belong to such organizations. Shame.

Stressed Teacher

I just want to say that nothing I write on my white board about the standards or objectives will teach my students anything. I always verbally give them the purpose of our lessons and connect the purpose to the long term goal of producing literate citizens who can think independently. The standards give some continuity but they don’t teach anything! Teachers teach–spending time making what I do more apparent to administrators who know nothing about the craft of teaching English is a waste of my time and leaves less time for student interaction.

Monty Neill

Once again we see promoters of Common Core tests trying to sell this pig in a poke to educators, who apparently are not buying.

Monty Neill

And for more on why teachers and principals are legitimately skeptical of CC tests, see http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-more-tests-not-much-better .


I know that almost all of the teachers at my school are extremely stressed. We have had 4 teachers quit mid-year and several others ready to join their ranks. We can’t even find teachers to fill these positions and are now operating with long-term subs. I know this certainly isn’t what is best for our students. I understand why teachers don’t stay in low-income schools for long. There is constant scrutiny, new “fix-all” programs constantly, and always a negative perception of the teachers no matter how hard we work or care about our students’ success. We are expected to fix all of the years of problems our students come to us with in one school year. On top of all of that, we have had pay cuts for the past 4 years.

Hannes Minkema

You can’t expect people to feel valued if they are obviously little valued by society. You can’t expect people to feel at ease if they are constantly blamed and harassed. You can’t expect people to feel rewarded if rewards are taken from them time after time.

Understanding the negative spiral of teacher appreciation is not hard. It just takes some acceptance of the facts. But are we prepared to do so? Or are we shut in our illusion that a teacher’s job is easy because it supposedly ends at 3.30 o’clock in the afternoon?

There is a reason why Finland attracts the best and brightest students for the teacher core, and the UK (and many countries) only those who have no alternative on the job market. But it seems we are not willing to look that reason in the eye.

Harry Coverston

That low morale continues right into the ranks of college instructors. We inherit the products of NCLB who are well-trained in taking high stakes tests but little else and resistant to learning and growing. We face increasing enrollments with decreasing funding and chimeras of online technologies solving all our problems.

Here’s the question, America. Where will we be 2o years from now when the products of our disinvestment and rejection of public education are required to take the reins of our nation? All decisions have consequences. Indeed, that’s something we used to teach our children in public schools.

[...] Cohen, president of Achieve, said at the time the report was released: “What struck me most [is that] they are operating in an environment of [...]

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