Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Fundamental Flaw In A Much-Hyped Teacher Survey?

Kyle Stokes / StateImpact Indiana

A teacher leads his class in South Bend.

We highlighted last week the results of a survey showing a precipitous drop in teacher job satisfaction over the last two years.

But at Real Clear Politics, Andrew Rotherham says the numbers took a nosedive “based on dubious polling“:

The much-touted data point about teacher satisfaction is, to put it politely, fundamentally flawed. MetLife asks about job satisfaction in different ways in different years. In 2008 and 2009 they asked teachers, “How satisfied would you say you are with teaching as a career?”

The survey didn’t ask about satisfaction in 2010, but in 2011 and 2012 teachers were asked, “How satisfied would you say you are with your job as a teacher in the public schools?”… 

What Metlife did would be akin to asking a soldier on a tough deployment how he likes his job vs. asking him how he likes his career in the armed forces — and claiming that it was the same question. [Above emphasis is StateImpact's]

While Rotherham writes “this doesn’t mean teachers aren’t facing real problems,” he adds the new MetLife numbers should have been framed differently:

A new survey of public school teachers in the United States finds that 82 percent pronounce themselves “somewhat satisfied” or “very satisfied” with their jobs. Just 17 percent say they are “somewhat dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.” Yet in education circles, these findings… were roundly treated as a disturbing development.

That said, several teachers flocked to the comments section of our post about last year’s numbers to vent their frustrations about the profession since we posted it in March 2012. We highlight some of their comments here.

What are we to make of Rotherham’s analysis? Leave your thoughts below.



  • Doug Martin

    Andrew Rotherham, Mind Trust member, Bill Gates promoter, and all around corporate school sell-out, knows more than a thing or two about faulty research. He’s make a lot of money doing and promoting it. Be nice to see State Impact do some research on Rotherham. First off start with Philip E. Kovacs and H.K. Christie, The Gates’
    Foundation and the Future of U.S. Public Education: A Call for Scholars to
    Counter Misinformation Campaigns, Journal for Critical Education Policy
    Studies, December 1, 2008, See page 3-4, first.

  • observer

    Rather than respond to third-hand reporting about what the data say, I went back and looked at the report itself which I found at

    The survey question asked “All in all, how satisfied would you say you are with your job as a teacher in the public schools?” According to the report, that same question was asked in the surveys in1984, 1986, 1987, 2001, 2011, 2012. Looking at the data for those years there was a rise until 2001to 52 percent saying they were very satisfied, and a decline since then of 13 percentage points to 39 percent very satisfied, a 25-year low. That seems pretty significant to me.

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