There is no shortage of media coverage about the current crises in the teaching profession: excessive vacancies; teacher burnout; lingering pandemic challenges; and more.
Our 2022 Texas Teacher Poll provides data about how to support and strengthen the teaching profession, and it comes straight from the source – Texas teachers.
Teachers are the experts about the pain points, challenges, and opportunities within the teaching profession. They can identify what got us into this crisis, and how to get us out of it.
Here are the key takeaways from our 2022 representative statewide poll of Texas teachers. These insights from educators are a call to action for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers to not only listen to teachers, but also act in partnership with them to strengthen and sustain the teaching profession and, consequently, Texas public schools.
In three years of poll data, the number of teachers who are seriously considering leaving the profession has jumped from 58% in 2020 to 77% in 2022. Of the 77% considering leaving, 93% have taken concrete steps to do so. These types of steps include:
A large percentage of teachers (42%) say they expect to stay in their current position for less than three years.
Too little pay, support, and respect, combined with too much non-instructional work and pressures to respond to the individual needs of students without adequate resources are driving teachers out of the profession.
When asked in an open-ended question about reasons teachers have seriously considered leaving their positions, their responses generally fell into six buckets:
Although not explicitly tied to attrition, when asked about barriers teachers face that keep them from being as good a teacher as they can be, the following topped the list:
Teachers report working overtime, spending their own money on classrooms and students, and working second jobs.
Eighty-three percent of teachers report working at least 50 hours/week during the school year. Of those, 31% report working 50-59 hours/week; 34% work 60-69 hours/week; and 12% report working 70-79 hours/week.
Ninety-eight percent of teachers spent their own money on classroom supplies. These teachers report a median of $500 spent on classroom supplies during the last school year (2021-22) without reimbursement. Thirty-nine percent reported spending $251-$500; 6% spent $501-$750; 14% spent $751-$1,000.
Of the teachers who report spending their own money supporting students’ basic needs, teachers spent a median of $200 on items such as food or clothing without reimbursement. Twenty-nine percent spent $1-100; 20% spent $101-$250; 18% spent $251-$500.
Fifty-two percent of teachers reported working a second job for pay. Of those, 89% worked the additional job during the school year. Seventy-nine percent of these teachers say the main reason they do additional work is because they need the extra money.
Eighty-one percent of teachers say their pay is unfair, up from 69% in 2021 and compared to 60% of teachers nationally who were asked this question in 2019.
The share of teachers who feel valued by Texans overall has fallen from 44% in 2020 to 17% in 2022. Percentages of teachers reporting feeling valued by administrators (55%), their communities (34%), and the parents of their students (44%) are all down from 2020. A mere 5% feel valued by elected officials in the state, down from 20% in 2020.
Despite challenging working conditions, the vast majority of Texas teachers report they currently have strong relationships with students (92%) and the opportunity to help students reach their potential (75%). Additionally, 69% say they have a job that makes a positive impact on society. A smaller percentage, yet still a strong majority, 59% say they currently have a rewarding job that makes a difference.
When asked about the importance of these big-picture career- and student-related factors in keeping teachers in the profession in the future, teachers rated their importance:
When asked how important certain factors are in encouraging teachers to continue in their profession, they responded:
When asked specifically about pay and benefits, teachers’ responses make clear distinctions between retention strategies they consider important to encourage them to stay in the profession:
Drilling down to subpopulations, some groups value different retention strategies more than teachers averaged as a group.
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