Teaching Profession The State of Teaching

Introducing the Teacher Morale Index

The Teacher Morale Index provides a year-over-year measure of teachers’ enthusiasm and confidence
By Holly Kurtz, Sterling C. Lloyd & Vanessa Solis — March 06, 2024 3 min read
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The teaching profession—a workforce of 3 million—is at an inflection point that could shape the course of the profession for the next generation of educators and students.

For the last few years, teachers have reported high levels of burnout and disillusionment—borne initially from the hardships of teaching in a pandemic and exacerbated by the escalating academic, social, and mental health needs of students. And for some teachers, the stress of landing in the white-hot center of divisive politics has taken a toll.

How teachers feel about their current jobs and their own future as educators is a critical indicator of the profession’s long-term health. To help school leaders, district leaders, policymakers, and the wider public understand these dynamics, the EdWeek Research Center created a Teacher Morale Index—a multi-faceted measure of teacher satisfaction that is a central feature of Education Week’s new project called The State of Teaching.

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The Teacher Morale Index gauges teachers’ levels of confidence and enthusiasm about their work based on responses to three survey questions that were part of a larger, nationally representative poll of teachers last October.

The inaugural, overall score on the index is -13 on a scale ranging from -100 to +100. Scores below zero represent lower morale and scores above zero indicate higher morale. The score of -13 suggests that, on average, teachers are feeling more negatively than positively about their jobs.

Below are the detailed findings in year 1 of the Teacher Morale Index. Of note, the findings show that teacher morale differs by the subject taught, the stage of teachers’ careers, and other factors. While these findings do not explain why these patterns appear, they offer new avenues for educators and researchers to explore more deeply.

(More information about the index and the EdWeek Research Center’s methodology is available at the end of this article.)

1. Overall teacher morale is low at -13

2. Teachers’ scores on the Teacher Morale Index show wide variation by the subject they teach

3. Where teachers work—in rural, town, suburban, or urban settings—impacts their scores on the Teacher Morale Index

4. Black teachers report the strongest morale, while teachers who are white or of two or more races have more negative morale

5. Teachers’ scores on the index varied widely depending on the stage of their careers

About the Teacher Morale Index

The Teacher Morale Index provides a broad, 360-degree view of teachers’ prior, present, and predicted perceptions of their workplace conditions and experiences. The Index, which is based on three survey questions that appeared on the 2023-2024 The State of Teaching Survey, is scored on a scale of -100 to +100, with negative scores indicating lower morale and positive scores indicating higher morale.

By combining data on teachers’ views about their past, current, and future morale into a single score, the index provides a unique perspective on their levels of optimism or pessimism at work.

The indicator can be tracked over time to reveal changes in future years and disaggregated to identify differences in scores by teaching assignment/subject taught, race/ethnicity, years of teaching experience, or other characteristics.

Calculating the Teacher Morale Index

Teachers responding to the 2023-2024 The State of Teaching Survey were asked to select one of three answer options in response to each of the three questions listed below: a negative response assigned a value of -100 points, a neutral response assigned a value of 0, or a positive response assigned a value of +100. Points for each of the three survey questions were averaged for each respondent to generate a score ranging from -100 to +100.

1. Compared to one year ago, my morale at work right now is:

  • Worse (-100 points)
  • The same (0 points)
  • Better (+100 points)

2. Right now, my morale at work is:

  • Mostly bad (-100 points)
  • Equally good and bad (0 points)
  • Mostly good (+100 points)

3. One year from now, I expect my morale at work will be:

  • Worse (-100 points)
  • The same (0 points)
  • Better (+100 points)

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A version of this article appeared in the March 06, 2024 edition of Education Week as Overall Teacher Morale Is Low, But Some Struggle More Than Others


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