Recruitment & Retention Opinion

MetLife Survey: ‘Teachers Are Less Satisfied With Their Careers’

By Emily Douglas-McNab — March 07, 2012 1 min read
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Today, MetLife released findings from their 2011 Survey of the American Teacher: Teachers, Parents and the Economy, which was conducted between October and November in partnership with Harris Interactive. It is the 28th version of the annual survey that reports on the satisfaction and perceptions of parents, teachers, and students across the U.S. Questions focus on everything from job satisfaction to perceptions of economic issues and parental involvement.

(Image: Cover of MetLife Report from the MetLife Foundation website)

More than 1,000 teachers, 947 students, and 1,086 parents participated in the survey. Of note, 58 percent of respondents had a master’s degree or higher. Seventy-five percent were female. And, 49 percent have been in education six to 20 years. Additionally, 28 percent of participants lived in an inner city or urban district, 41 percent came from a suburban community, and 29 percent from small town or rural districts.

So what were the findings?
Here are a few key findings as well as some other information I found interesting from the report.

• Between 2009 and 2011, job satisfaction levels of teachers have dropped 15 points, from 59 percent "very satisfied" to 44 percent. MetLife notes that this is the largest decrease in 20 years. (However, it's important to examine the entire data spread to get a comprehensive view of the results. In addition to the 44 percent of teachers who are "very satisfied," another 37 percent noted that they were "somewhat satisfied," which means that the data could also be interpreted to say 81 percent of teachers were "satisfied" with their jobs. How one interprets data could change a story.) • 29 percent of teacher respondents noted that they are "very likely" or "fairly likely" to leave the teaching profession within the next five years to go to another profession. In 2009, only 17 percent of respondents said they were "very likely" or "fairly likely" to leave. • 77 percent of teachers and 71 percent of parent respondents said they believe that public school teachers are treated as professionals by the community. • 36 percent of teachers reported that arts and music, physical education, and foreign language classes have been reduced or eliminated. • 65 percent of teachers said that (public) school teachers' salaries are not fair for the work they do in comparison to the 53 percent of parents who felt the same way. • When asked about professional development opportunities, 26 percent of teachers noted that opportunities have increased, 27 percent noted a decrease, and 46 percent noted that they had stayed the same.

So what’s the good news?
The press release from MetLife notes that:

• Teachers are supported by their communities: Amid the disquieting findings in this year's survey, data indicates strong support for the teaching profession. Overall, the survey found that a majority of both teachers (77 percent) and parents (71 percent) agree that teachers are treated as professionals by the community, and that teachers' health insurance (67 percent of teachers; 63 percent of parents) and retirement (61 percent of teachers; 60 percent of parents) benefits are fair for the work they do. • Levels of parent engagement have increased: Levels of engagement between parents and schools have seen marked improvement over past surveys. Two-thirds of students (64 percent) report that they talk about things that happen at school with their parents every day, compared to 40 percent who reported speaking with their parents this frequently in 1988, the first time the survey asked this question. There was also a threefold increase in the number of students who report that their parents visit their school at least once a month-up from 16 percent in 1988 to 46 percent today.

Dennis White, Vice President of Corporate Contributions for MetLife said that “Economic prosperity will depend on a new generation well-prepared to learn for a lifetime in order to compete and collaborate in a global economy.” He added that “The survey’s findings underscore that education is a shared responsibility, particularly in the face of financial challenges.”

I would agree with Mr. White. I think these figures are important and demonstrate that we’re all in this together...or should be all in this together!

The data nerd in me would love to be able to match the responses from teachers with multiple measures of effectiveness. This information would help talent managers with planning, sourcing, and other important human capital activities.

What are your reactions to the survey results? What do you think this means for talent managers?

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