Although they find parts of their jobs immensely rewarding, many teachers feel ignored in education policy discussions and are frustrated with the constantly changing demands on them, a new survey finds.
Listen to Us: Teacher Views and Voices released by the nonprofit Center on Education Policy, is based on online interviews with a nationally representative sample of 3,328 public school teachers conducted late last year.
The report paints a picture of a profession that has become increasingly demanding and discouraging, leaving many teachers who entered the profession for mostly altruistic reasons feeling stressed and discounted.
According to the report, about half of teachers would leave the profession as soon as possible if they could get a higher-paying job, and the same percentage believe that the stress and disappointments involved in teaching at their school aren’t worth it.
Jal Mehta, an associate education professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and an opinion blogger for Education Week, said he found it striking that 46 percent of teachers cited state or district policies that get in the way of teaching as among their most significant challenges. That’s double the percentage of teachers who listed classroom factors, like large class sizes or working with economically disadvantaged students, as among their main challenges.
Mehta says, “Teachers are being encouraged to teach students new skills and to think more critically and deeply. Yet teachers feel like the policies that are supposed to be helping them do these things are in fact the biggest hindrance.“
The report finds that most teachers feel excluded from policy discussions at the district, state, and national levels. And there’s evidence to suggest teachers might feel even more overlooked than they did in 2013, when Scholastic Inc. and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation published the results from a similar survey which found that 38 percent of teachers were “very satisfied” and 51 percent were “satisfied” with their jobs.
The report also explores teachers’ thoughts on standardized testing and curricula aligned to meet state standards. A majority of the teachers surveyed said that they spend too much time preparing students for state- and district-mandated tests and that their students spend too much time taking those tests.
To read more of this analysis, see Survey says Teachers are Feeling Stressed, Discouraged
For the full report, see Listen to Us: Teachers Views and Voices