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What We Learned About the Work of Public School Teachers from the National Teacher and Principal Survey

The National Teacher and Principal Survey has released its 2015-16 report that represents the 3,555,600 public school teachers and principals working in the United States. The report provided insight into how much time teachers spend working versus their required number of work hours and where they feel they have an influence in the climate of their schools.

Among public school teachers and principals, on average, full-time teachers spent 53 hours per week on all school-related activities. This included 27 hours spent in the classroom delivering lessons to students. In order to receive a base full-time salary, teachers were required to put in an average work week of 38 hours.

There were no significant differences in the average number of hours worked during the week for teachers at charter or traditional public schools, as well as school level. Charter school teachers worked an average of 54.4 hours while traditional public school teachers put in 53.2 hours. Elementary and middle school teachers both worked an average of 52.9 hours, while high school teachers worked an average of 54 hours.

That base salary for full-time teachers during the 2015-16 school year equated to an average of $55,100. Traditional public schools overall paid their teachers better, with the average full-time salary being $55,600, compared with $47,000 for charter school teachers. As far as teachers who earned extra money for additional activities from their school system, the average take-home was $2,600 a year. The average amount earned from jobs outside the school system by public teachers was nearly double with an average take-home income source of $5,100.

An overall majority (84 percent) of public school teachers said they felt they had some sort of influence on establishing the curriculum. Though it should be noted that teachers who reported “minor influence,” “moderate influence,” or “a great deal of influence” were considered to have reported having “any influence.” So the amount of influence teachers feel they have on curriculum was significantly varied.

As for the areas where public school teachers felt they had an influence, 74 percent thought they had any influence on setting the discipline policy and 60 percent thought they had an influence on hiring new full-time teachers. Fifty-three percent of the teachers felt they had an influence on impacting the school’s budget decisions and 81 percent felt they had influence over student performance standards. Eighty-two percent of teachers also felt they had an influence on the content of school in-service programs.

When it came to control of the classroom and student evaluation nearly all teachers (98 percent) felt they had control over evaluating grades and determining students’ homework load. Eighty-five percent of teachers responded that they had control on selecting teaching topics and instructional materials.

Sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics, the National Teacher and Principal Survey is a representative sample survey of K–12 public school principals and teachers across all 50 states and Washington, D.C. Sampling was done on an ongoing basis with an average of six to eight teachers sampled per school with a maximum of 20 teachers, so as not to cause too much disruption. Nearly 40,000 public school teachers participated via mail-based and internet surveys, as well as phone and in-person interviews.


Article by Joel Stice, Education World Contributor

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