HomeSchool Reform NewsTeachers' Confidence Lowest Ever, Says Ed Tech Giant (Survey)

Teachers’ Confidence Lowest Ever, Says Ed Tech Giant (Survey)

Teachers’ confidence lowest ever in eighth annual survey of educators’ attitudes by learning technology company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

An annual survey by learning technology company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) found teachers’ confidence in the education profession is at its lowest level since the company began tracking it in 2015.

The 2022 Educator Confidence Report, which surveyed over a thousand K–12 teachers and more than 125 administrators, found 76 percent of respondents feel negatively about the direction of the teaching profession. HMH’s “Educator Confidence Index,” the methodology of which is not detailed in their preliminary findings, now sits at 40 (out of 100), the lowest level in the eight years of the annual survey and down from 49 from 2020.

The report also found teachers’ self-reported concerns about salaries and compensation are up 16 percent since 2020; their self-perceived “respect” for their profession is down 26 percent; and connections between families and their schools have dropped 18 percent.

Top Concern: Mental Health

Some 78 percent of respondents indicated the “mental health of their peers” is their top concern, while 64 percent say they lack “adequate” funding for classroom supplies and resources. Over 60 percent of respondents noted a silver lining to schooling during the pandemic was “increased attention paid to student social and emotional needs.”

“On top of concerns around student wellness and performance, educators are increasingly worried about their peers,” said Francie Alexander, Chief Research Officer at HMH. “To nurture their needs, we must invest in tools to help our educators make the connections with their networks in ways that best serve them. Parents, administrators, policymakers, and community members are all needed to support teachers and foster a new generation of educators.”

Coincidentally—and conveniently for a survey distributed by a massive edtech corporation—another 68 percent of teachers said educational technology has become “essential” to their classrooms. Among the technologies teachers would most like to see are better “tools to communicate between teachers and parents,” tools that “deliver interactive learning opportunities,” and “targeted instructional materials or resources” for each student.

“We believe that the future of learning will be powered to a meaningful degree by technology yet centered on human connection, and this year’s survey data gives us clear insight into how to realize that vision,” said HMH CEO Jack Lynch. “Educators are telling us that today’s status quo isn’t cutting it, but they also see a path to the future. Importantly, that path relies on addressing basic needs like wellbeing and mental health concerns, both for teachers and students, supported by connected technology that allows educators and focus on what matters most, human relationships.”

Alger: Teachers Need Choice

The COVID-19 years have brought into focus problems with technology, teaching, and curricula in the public schools, says Vicki Alger, a research fellow at the Independent Institute.

“Teacher satisfaction and retention are not new issues,” said Alger. “However, the pandemic has certainly exacerbated them. Schools, districts, and teacher unions’ heavy-handed policies, including masking and COVID shot mandates, introduced tremendous conflict. Meanwhile, with a significant proportion of students attending school online, parents got a glimpse into their children’s learning materials—and many were appalled at what they saw.”

Teachers, like their students, would benefit from school choice, says Alger.

“The key to improving teacher satisfaction and retention is, and has been, the scrapping of the monolithic view of education,” said Alger. “Give teachers freedom to shape school and academic policy, and let parents choose from among a variety of options. Likewise, education funding should follow students to education providers their parents think are best. Not only would such freedom minimize conflict, it would also introduce competition so providers would face powerful incentives to direct the lion’s share of funding toward paying their best teachers well.”

The full Educator Confidence Report, the HMH website states, will be available in late fall 2022.

For more School Reform News.

Tim Benson
Tim Benson
Tim Benson joined The Heartland Institute in September 2015 as a policy analyst in the Government Relations Department.

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