All work, no surveys, for U.S. teachers

While there’s been a lot of attention paid this week to a just-released OECD report on gender gaps, I found myself captivated by another OECD report, the Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS).The results from the 2013 survey were released last year, but I just stumbled upon them thanks to a webinar hosted by the American Institutes for Research.

The TALIS 2013 was a survey of junior high teachers (roughly grades seven through nine) from 34 participating OECD countries. They were asked about topics such as classroom conditions, professional development, teacher appraisal and feedback, and teacher job satisfaction.

The first interesting thing about this survey isn’t even one of the findings. It’s that, alone among the 34 participating educational systems, the U.S. failed to achieve the response rate required by the TALIS data standards. The U.S. results were deemed to be valid enough to be reported – but not to be included in the international average or any of the indices in the TALIS database. I’m not sure exactly what conclusion to draw from this – U.S. teachers have less time than their international counterparts? Less interest in international surveys? – but it stood out to me.

Other interesting tidbits from the report:

  • U.S. teachers spend the most time actually teaching: 26.8 hours a week, or almost 60 percent of their overall work week. (At the other end of the spectrum? Norway, where teachers only spend 15 (!) hours teaching each week.)
  • While more than nine out of 10 U.S. teachers participated in some type of professional development within the last year, the bulk of that PD took the form of courses or workshops, or education conferences. Relatively few U.S. teachers (13.3 percent) conducted observation visits to other schools; this is below the international average (19 percent) and well under countries like Japan (51.4 percent) and Iceland (52.1 percent).
  • A lot of U.S. teachers report they are satisfied with their jobs – 89.1 percent – but only a third of them said they thought the teaching profession was valued in society. Interestingly, they were above the international average on that, but well below countries like Finland (58.6 percent) and Korea (66.5 percent).

There are a lot more figures to explore in the findings from this survey. I highly recommend you check it out to learn a bit more about how U.S. teachers are viewing their profession these days.