Thursday, February 21, 2013

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Challenges for School Leadership

The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Challenges for School Leadership (2012) captures the viewpoints and experiences of teachers and principals working to meet those responsibilities in an environment of continued strained resources and increased expectations to strengthen educational outcomes.

Key Findings:

• Among responsibilities that school leaders face, those that teachers and principals identify as most challenging result from conditions that originate beyond school doors. A majority of teachers and principals report that their school’s budget has decreased in the last 12 months, and even greater proportions of teachers and principals indicate that it is challenging or very challenging for school leaders to manage budgets and resources to meet school needs.

• Teachers and principals also rate the responsibilities of addressing the individual needs of diverse learners and engaging parents and the community in improving the education of students as significant leadership challenges.

• Of lesser concern, but still seen by more than half of teachers and principals as challenging or very challenging, are instructional leadership responsibilities of implementing the Common Core, creating and maintaining an academically rigorous learning environment, and evaluating teacher effectiveness. Principals and teachers also cite the need to provide professional development opportunities for teachers and maintaining an adequate supply of effective teachers as sizable but lower-tier challenges.

• Teachers in schools where budgets have decreased, however, say that providing opportunities for them to build their competence and skills is a significant challenge.

• Greater proportions of teachers and principals in high-needs, than in other, schools report that maintaining an adequate supply of effective teachers and engaging parents and the community present challenges for their school leaders.

• The responsibilities of school leadership have changed significantly in recent years, leading to a job that principals say has become too complex and highly stressful.

• Although principals generally feel personally accountable for everything that happens to the children in their schools, they see differences in their jobs compared to just five years ago.

• Overall, teachers also hold the principal responsible for everything that happens to the children in a school, and more so today than teachers did a quarter century ago.

• Three-quarters of all principals say that the job has become too complex, and nearly half report feeling under great stress several days a week or more.

• Principals in secondary schools and schools where only some students are reaching grade level in English language arts and mathematics indicate the greatest stress.

• While most principals report having a great deal of control in hiring teachers and making decisions about teachers’ schedules, fewer than half have great control over removing teachers or over curriculum and instruction.

• Principals say they have the least control in making decisions about school finances.

• Principal and teacher job satisfaction is declining. Principals’ satisfaction with their jobs in the public schools has decreased nine percentage points since it was last measured in 2008. In that same period, teacher satisfaction has dropped precipitously by 23 percentage points, including a five-point decrease in the last year, to the lowest level it has been in the survey in 25 years.

• A majority of teachers report that they feel under great stress at least several days a week, a significant increase from 1985 when this was last measured. Principals and teachers with low job satisfaction report higher levels of stress than do other educators and are more likely to work in high-needs schools. Less satisfied principals are more likely to find it challenging to maintain an academically rigorous environment and an adequate supply of effective teachers in their schools, while less satisfied teachers are more likely to be working in schools where budgets and time for professional development and collaboration have decreased in the last 12 months.

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