MetLife released its annual survey of teachers and principals. It will be no surprise to readers of this blog that both groups of educators report lower job satisfaction and increased levels of stress.
As major changes in education loom and cuts in many public school budgets continue, the job of running the nation’s schools has become more complex, challenging, and stressful, the new MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Challenges for School Leadership (2012) reveals.
School leaders today say that key responsibilities are challenging, particularly those schools alone cannot address. The challenges include balancing budgets — more than half of both teachers (56 percent) and principals (53 percent) report that their school’s budget has decreased in the last 12 months — and addressing the growing needs of diverse learners and their families.
Many principals say their jobs have changed over the last five years (69 percent say the responsibilities are not very similar) and 75 percent say their jobs have become too complex. Principals also report high levels of stress and limited control over key academic functions in their schools. About half of all principals (48 percent) and teachers (51 percent) report that they feel under great stress in their job at least several days a week.
Meanwhile, nine in ten principals (89 percent) say they are accountable for everything that happens to the children in their schools, but fewer principals say they have a great deal of control over key school-based functions, including the curriculum and instruction in their schools (42 percent) and making decisions about removing teachers (43 percent).
The survey — the 29th in an annual series commissioned by MetLife and conducted by Harris Interactive1 — examines the views of teachers and principals on the responsibilities and challenges facing school leaders, including the changing roles of principals and teachers, budget and resources, professional satisfaction, and implementation of the Common Core State Standards for college and career readiness.
Teacher Job Satisfaction Continues to Drop to Lowest Level in 25 Years
The report reveals that teacher job satisfaction has continued to drop significantly. Teacher satisfaction has declined 23 percentage points since 2008, from 62 percent to 39 percent very satisfied, including a drop of 5 percentage points in the last 12 months—the lowest level reported since 1987.
The survey was conducted by telephone among 1,000 U.S. K-12 public school teachers and 500 public school principals in October and November, 2012.
Principal job satisfaction is also on the decline, but at not as steep a rate as teacher satisfaction. Fifty-nine percent of principals say they are very satisfied with their jobs, compared to 68 percent in 2008. The decrease, however, marks the lowest point in principal job satisfaction in more than a decade.
“The survey’s findings underscore the responsibilities and challenges educators must address to ensure America’s young people are prepared to compete and collaborate in the global economy,” said Dennis White, vice president of corporate contributions for MetLife. “We hope the findings of this survey will help us all pose and address questions about school leadership that can turn challenges into opportunities for better student achievement.”
Educators Confident about Implementing Common Core but Unsure of Impact
While national experts on teaching, standards, and leadership interviewed for the design of the study have raised significant concerns about the readiness and capacity of schools to implement the Common Core State Standards, a majority of teachers (62 percent) and nearly half of principals (46 percent) report teachers in their schools already are using the Common Core a great deal in their teaching this year. Most principals (90 percent) and teachers (93 percent) are confident or very confident that teachers in their schools already have the academic abilities and skills needed to implement these new, rigorous standards.
Those confidence levels have limits, however. Teachers and principals are more likely to be very confident that teachers have the ability to implement the Common Core (53 percent of teachers; 38 percent of principals) than they are very confident that the Common Core will improve the achievement of students (17 percent of teachers; 22 percent of principals) or better prepare students for college and the workforce (20 percent of teachers; 24 percent of principals).
Other Key Findings
• Teachers are leaders, too: Even with these significant challenges, teachers are engaging in school leadership and looking for opportunities to serve in other capacities. Half of teachers (51 percent) have a leadership role in their school, such as department chair, instructional resource, teacher mentor, or leadership team member. Fifty-one percent of teachers also say they are at least somewhat interested in teaching in the classroom part-time combined with other roles or responsibilities in their school or district, including 23 percent who are extremely or very interested in this option.
• Factors whose origins are beyond school control represent the most significant challenges: Three quarters of teachers and principals or more say that it is challenging or very challenging for school leadership to manage budgets and resources to meet school needs (86 percent of teachers; 78 percent of principals, address the individual needs of diverse learners (78 percent of teachers; 83 percent of principals), and engage parents and the community in improving the education of students (73 percent of teachers; 72 percent of principals).
• Time for collaboration and professional learning remains limited: More than six in ten teachers say that time to collaborate with other teachers (65 percent) and professional development opportunities (63 percent) have either decreased or stayed the same during the past 12 months. The decreases in professional development have a sizable relationship to a school’s financial condition: Teachers who report that their school’s budget has decreased in the past 12 months are three times as likely as others to report that there have been decreases in time to collaborate with other teachers (35 percent vs. 11 percent) and in professional development opportunities (27 percent vs. 8 percent).
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog