Educator Morale, School Job Applicants Declining, Survey Shows

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Educator morale is dropping. School districts are reporting fewer job applicants. Student mask requirements are expanding. And there is a big range in the amount of live instruction schools offer daily.

Those are four key findings from the EdWeek Research Center’s latest monthly survey about the impact of the coronavirus on schools and other timely topics.

The EdWeek Research Center administered the online survey Oct. 28 and 29. A total of 1,630 educators responded, including 495 district leaders, 310 principals, and 825 teachers.

1. Educator Morale Hits Lowest Point Since Pandemic Started

Teacher, administrator, and hourly employee morale have hit their lowest points since the EdWeek Research Center first started tracking this metric on March 25.

Of those three groups, teachers are faring the worst: 84 percent of teachers and administrators say teacher morale is lower now than it was prior to the pandemic. That’s up from 71 percent the last time the Research Center asked about morale in late August and from 56 percent in March.

Hourly employees aren’t far behind: 76 percent of teachers and district leaders say hourly employee morale is lower now than prior to the pandemic. Respondents in larger districts with 10,000 or more students are especially likely to say hourly employee morale has declined. Eighty-four percent of teachers and district leaders in those districts say hourly employee morale is down, compared with 68 percent of those in smaller districts with fewer than 2,500 students.

2. Number of Job Applications for School Positions Declines

Despite high unemployment caused by the pandemic-induced recession, half of principals and district leaders say they’re receiving fewer job applications right now than they did last year at this time. By contrast, just 8 percent say they’re receiving more.

The decline has hit larger districts especially hard. In districts with 10,000 or more students, 67 percent of principals and district administrators say the number of applications has declined. By comparison, 48 percent of school and district administrators in school systems with less than 2,500 students have seen declines.

3. Student Mask Requirements Continue to Expand

The share of district leaders reporting that their school systems require students to wear masks has continued to rise. Ninety-two percent of district-level administrators say masks are required, or will be if in-person instruction occurs, up from 82 percent the last time the EdWeek Research Center asked about it on Oct. 8.

Although student mask requirements are close to ubiquitous, they are reported slightly less often by rural leaders and those from smaller school districts.

4. There is a wide range in the amount of daily, live instruction offered by schools

Most district leaders (84 percent) say their students are engaging in remote learning at least part of the time.

Most of the teachers, principals, and district leaders involved in full-time remote learning or a mix of remote and in-person instruction say students are receiving at least four hours daily of live, synchronous instruction on days they’re not at school.

However, 1 in 5 say students receive less than two hours of live, synchronous learning each day. And only 3 percent say they get seven hours or more.

Older students tend to get more live, synchronous learning time. Twenty-seven percent of high school teachers and principals say their students get six or more hours daily of live, synchronous instruction on days they’re not at school, compared with 22 percent of middle school educators and 9 percent of elementary school principals and teachers.

In addition, compared with their peers who are only providing remote instruction, educators whose schools are offering a combination of in-person and online learning are roughly twice as likely to be offering six or more hours daily of live, synchronous instruction on days students are not on campus (10 percent vs. 20 percent).

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