Blog: The Educated Reporter

Are Teachers Satisfied? Depends Who – And How – You Ask

Joy Resmovits of The Huffington Post scored an exclusive on two new reports from the Center for American Progress, which looked at both how satisfied teachers are with their jobs and what degree of autonomy they have in the classroom. 

In the CAP reports, an overwhelming majority – from 82 to 89 percent of teachers between the two surveys – said they were satisfied with their jobs. And more than 90 percent of teachers said they had a “good deal of control” over the teaching methods they chose to use. 

Those findings run contrary to some conventional wisdom about the state of the teaching profession. From Resmovits’ reporting

“When you read headlines, you think teachers have no autonomy, they’re unsatisfied, they’re leaving the profession in droves. We were hearing a lot about how educators are leaving schools because of their cookie-cutter approaches,” said Ulrich Boser, one of authors of the reports. “While it’s true that many school districts have been focusing too much on testing, we wanted to dig deeper, unpack more on the autonomy about how much students learn versus how teachers teach.”

The CAP reports are noteworthy, particularly when viewed in context with other surveys of teachers such as the Gallup Poll. Andrew Rotherham of Bellwether Partners, writing in the Eduwonk blog, said that in both reports there’s a “gap between the rhetoric you hear tossed around and the underlying data.”

But it’s just as important to note that not every poll uses the same wording in its questions, and shading in language can produce very different answers. As I wrote recently, education journalists should proceed with caution when using these kinds of survey and polls in their reporting. I also took at a closer look at often-cited MetLife annual survey of teachers and questions raised about its methodology.  

For more on how to use polling data in education reporting, check out the most recent addition to our Reporter Guide series. You’ll find important background, questions to ask, and sources to tap. 


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