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Teaching Profession

The Teaching Profession in 2016 (in Charts)

By Madeline Will — December 23, 2016 5 min read
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Over the last year, we have seen a huge number of reports, surveys, and other data that explore various changes and challenges facing the teaching profession.

For the past three years, Teaching Now has compiled graphs—from both our in-house research center and outside organizations—to visually capture the state of teaching. These statistics serve as a reminder of the wide variety of issues that educators face, and perhaps some of what is on the education landscape for 2017.

In 2014, we focused on the teaching profession itself: salary, autonomy, retention, etc. In 2015, we looked at teaching through a student lens: discipline bias, gender disparities, suicide rates, etc. This year, we include some graphs from both of those categories, but we mainly focus on what teachers are telling us: How do teachers feel about certain policy issues? What challenges are teachers facing right now? What is going on in the classroom that policymakers and administrators need to know about?

Here are the graphs:

Chart #1: Teaching the Common Core

Most teachers now say they are familiar with the Common Core State Standards, and a growing number feel prepared to teach them to their students, according to a new survey by the Education Week Research Center. Still, teachers told the center that there are still challenges—like low levels of parent awareness about the standards, inadequate professional development, and a dearth of ready-made materials that are aligned to the common core. Just 18 percent of teachers strongly agreed that their textbooks and main curricular materials are aligned to the common standards. This chart below (produced by Education Week) shows how teachers determine alignment:

Chart #2: Incorporating a Growth Mindset in the Classroom

Educators have been enthusiastic about incorporating a “growth mindset” into their classroom strategies—but teachers don’t necessarily have the resources or understanding to do so effectively. A September poll by the Education Week Research Center found that 77 percent of teachers are familiar or very familiar with growth mindset, but 85 percent said they wanted more professional development in the area.

Chart #3: Technology in the Classroom

Every year, there are more and more great ed-tech tools to use in the classroom. And a majority of K-12 educators see themselves as risk takers or early adapters in using technology, an Education Week Research Center survey found. But there are still systemic challenges for teachers who want to adapt their instruction to use technology in transformative ways—rather than for routine practices.

Chart #4: Teachers Use Their Own Money for Students

This graph will likely come to no surprise to teachers: A November survey found that teachers report that they feel obligated to use their own money (on average, $530) to fill classroom equity gaps. Teachers in high-poverty schools spend significantly more—an average of $672.

Charts #5 & #6: Teachers Are Feeling Frustrated, Ignored

In May, a survey from the nonprofit Center on Education Policy found that teachers are feeling stressed about their jobs and discounted. One-third of the teachers in the survey say that the constantly changing demands on them are a significant challenge. As the chart below shows, about half of teachers feel that the stress and disappointments of teaching “aren’t really worth it.”

Another frustration for teachers, the survey found, is that they feel like their opinions and input are not taken into account by policymakers. As the chart below shows, most teachers feel like their voices are heard at school, but there’s a sharp decline for the district, state, and national levels.

Chart #7: Teacher Shortages Could Be Growing

Teacher shortages were in the news all year—from the initial headlines of urgent vacancies as the school year began, to states and districts turning to alternative measures to fill the classroom, like technology and even changes to the licensure process.

But a report by the Learning Policy Institute, a California-based think tank, analyzed federal data to find that there is an impending widespread national shortage.

Of course, not all agree with this data. Some say shortages are regional and subject-based, and that this graph is making the problem sound more severe than it is. For more, check out this archived webinar with LPI’s Linda Darling-Hammond and the National Council on Teacher Quality’s Kate Walsh discussing the issue.

Chart #8: We Have a Teacher Diversity Problem

Eighty-two percent of U.S. teachers are white, while about half of public school students are nonwhite. This disparity has led to conversations from the U.S. Department of Education down to individual districts and schools about how to increase teacher diversity and recruit nonwhite teachers to the profession. However, a report from the Brookings Institution and the National Council on Teacher Quality found that the country still has a long, long way to go before closing the teacher diversity gap.

Read about some of the challenges faced by black teachers in particular here.

Chart #9: There Are a Lot of New Teachers

New teachers need a lot of extra support. And there are a lot out there: 12 percent of all public school teachers are in their first or second year, an Education Week analysis found.

For more on new teachers, and how schools can better support them, see Education Week Teacher’s special report.

Chart #10: Student Engagement Is Low

A March survey conducted by Gallup found that only half of teens report feeling engaged in school, and a fifth are actively disengaged. As the chart below shows, engagement levels decrease as students get older.

How can teachers and administrators tackle this challenge? Check out this Leadership 360 blog post on the shared work of student engagement.

See also: The Teaching Profession in 2015 (in Charts) and The Teaching Profession in 2014 (in Charts)

Looking for more year-in-review coverage? See our list of the top 10 most-read stories on the Teaching Now blog.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.