Teachers are less satisfied with their jobs than they have been in decades, according to the 28th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher. Among the survey findings:

  • Job satisfaction dropped 15 percentage points since 2009, from 59 percent to 44 percent of teachers responding they are very satisfied.
  • Meanwhile, the number of teachers likely to leave for another occupation increased 12 percentage points since 2009, from 17 percent to 29 percent today.
  • Teachers are more than four times as likely today than five years ago to say that they do not believe their job is secure, 34 percent compared to 8 percent in 2006.
  • Further, 53 percent of parents and 65 percent of teachers today say that teachers’ salaries are not fair for the work they do.

But a particularly troubling finding concerns the prospects for improved student achievement.

Fully, 43 percent of teachers are pessimistic student achievement levels will improve in the next five years. Dana Markow, vice president of Youth & Education Research for Harris Interactive, the agency that conducted the survey, noted that “people’s perceptions of how things are have actual implications in the classroom. It’s the Pygmalion Effect—teachers with high expectations, there’s evidence their students perform better.” Regis Shields, director of Education Resource Strategies, said that this finding “really requires us to rethink the teaching profession if that many people are unhappy and don’t think they can have any impact.”

Efforts are currently underway to improve teacher preparation, as well as attract and retrain teachers of top talent through reforms such as competitive, performance-based pay. Parental involvement and community support for teachers is also up. So while some teachers may feel down, effective teachers definitively shouldn’t be out of America’s classrooms.

Ms. Regis explained more information is needed about “who the 29 percent of teachers likely to leave the teaching profession are…If these aren’t effective teachers and this increases the effectiveness of the teaching force, that’s great. If they’re high-quality teachers, then we have some concerns.”