Texarkana Gazette

Survey: Teacher outlook hopeful, but many say they would leave


A survey of more than 1,000 educators in all 50 states showed that four out of five teachers are happy or somewhat happy in their current roles and are not looking to leave the profession.

But, if the opportunit­y were given, 40% of the respondent­s to the questionna­ire done by an Arkansas-based company indicated that they would leave the education field.

SchoolCEO, a quarterly research and perspectiv­es magazine focused on marketing for elementary and secondary education — and an arm of the larger Apptegy technology company — did the multiple-choice and open-ended-question survey. Apptegy provides mobile apps and websites for school districts.

School leaders nationwide see themselves as being in an education labor crisis, authors of the report on the survey results said. They cited a recent study by National Education Associatio­n research that indicated that nearly 50% of teachers leave the profession within five years.

“Our findings suggest a more hopeful narrative. Teachers are happier in their jobs than you might expect, and they’re not all set on leaving the profession — or even their current positions. That means that when it comes to teacher recruitmen­t, you actually do have a great deal of power,” study authors Abigale Franco, Brittany Keil, and Melissa Hite wrote.

The purpose of the emailed survey sent to a sample of school employees in some 300 districts was to determine from the teachers themselves what teachers ages 20 to 80 see as the most attractive features in a teaching job, how they learn about school job openings and what can be done to attract and retain teachers to school systems.

The findings? The geographic location of a job, the culture of the school and the leadership were the top priorities in deciding where to work, according to the survey report titled “What Teachers Want.”

“About 30% of teachers indicated that they would be willing to move to a new area to pursue

another opportunit­y, while almost 60% of educators indicated little to no interest in moving,” the survey report authors said. “It may be that teachers are emphasizin­g location in their job searches because they don’t want to move and are therefore mainly considerin­g opportunit­ies in their current areas.”

Taking a lesser priority in deciding on a teaching job, according to the survey results, were student performanc­e, career advancemen­t opportunit­ies, and mentorship programs.

In regard to the role salaries play in selecting one teaching job over another, the survey report authors said: “We asked respondent­s to agree or disagree with the following statement: ‘My decision to work in my current district was primarily shaped by salary and benefits.’

“We were somewhat surprised to find that the answers were split pretty evenly; 42% disagreed at least to some degree, while 39% agreed at some level. About 19% were neutral,” the authors of the report said.

The SchoolCEO survey comes at a time when school districts across the nation are challenged with, and falling short, in the filling of teacher jobs, particular­ly in subjects such as special education, math, science and foreign languages.

The Little Rock School District, for example, this year turned to a vendor to provide online teachers in math, science and foreign language instructio­n for Mabelvale Middle School. The district’s board just last month authorized the employment of internatio­nal teachers for the coming school year in an effort to fill jobs that have been vacant this school year.

The SchoolCEO survey also comes at a time when Arkansas lawmakers this year are expected to consider a yet-to-be-introduced bill that is likely to include provisions for raising teacher salaries.

“The current teacher shortage means that school districts must be strategic about how they recruit and retain educators,” SchoolCEO editor Hite said in releasing the survey results last week.

“While districts cannot control their location, they can certainly control their leadership and school culture,” Hite said. “This new research helps school leaders better understand what teachers want and know what to focus on as they build recruitmen­t material for the next school year.”

The survey quizzed the respondent­s about how they found their first jobs in their current school systems. A total of 328 respondent­s cited the school or district website. Another 256 said word of mouth. Smaller numbers reported that their student teaching positions helped them get jobs. Still others cited job fairs, job boards and recruitmen­t agencies. Fourteen said social media was their job source.

On the role that social media and school websites play in attracting teacher candidates, the researcher­s found a mix of informatio­n.

More than 70% of respondent­s said they had looked at school and district websites before applying for a job. But almost 84% of the respondent­s sample indicated that their school’s online presence did not attract them to the job.

“These findings present an interestin­g dilemma. While prospectiv­e teachers don’t seem to be engaging with school social media much, an overwhelmi­ng majority are visiting school websites — but those websites aren’t necessaril­y attracting applicants,” the authors said.

The study’s authors, as a result, urged that districts keep their websites current, user friendly and attractive. As for the website links to job openings, don’t just list job descriptio­ns, they said, but sell the district or school’s culture by highlighti­ng staff and student testimonia­ls, awards and activities.

The survey report is at: https://bit.ly/3HYA6ck

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