The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

Job satisfaction among public school principals and teachers has decreased in the past five years, with teacher satisfaction reaching its lowest levels in 25 years, according to survey results released Thursday. Only 39 percent of teachers reported being very satisfied in their job, and more than half said they felt under “great stress” several days a week, the 29th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher found.

The findings come at a time when nearly every state around the country has adopted some sort of significant education reform in the past two years, including revising academic standards and implementing new teacher evaluation systems. Advocates say that many of these reforms, such as merit pay and the elimination of seniority-based layoffs, will help attract a higher-quality candidate to the profession.

But Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a nonprofit group that promotes higher academic standards, said he was concerned by the job satisfaction numbers and what they said about the general public’s view of educators. “What struck me most,” he said during a conference call hosted by MetLife to discuss the findings, “[is that] they are operating in an environment of public discourse that is often focused on blame.”

The survey also found that three-quarters of principals said that their job was too complex. “We’re asking principals to do a lot more with – at best – the same, or fewer resources,” Mel Riddile, an associate director at the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said on the call. “They’re encountering a perfect storm of Common Core implementation, new teacher evaluations and state accountability systems.”

Both Riddile and Cohen stressed that full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, a new set of k-12 academic standards that 48 states have adopted, would be a huge shift for virtually all schools.

Ninety percent of principals and 93 percent of teachers reported that teachers in their schools had the skills necessary for implementing the new standards, according to the survey. They were less sure, however, of the impact Common Core would have. Just 22 percent of principals and 17 percent of teachers said they were very confident the standards would increase student performance.

“Different surveys produce different findings of how supportive teachers are of the standards,” Cohen said. “None of this is going to happen quickly. These are long term changes.”

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Sarah Butrymowicz oversees and contributes to The Hechinger Report’s investigative and data work covering all levels of education, from early childhood to K-12 to higher education. She has worked at...

Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

Your email address will not be published.