A Study of Factors That Impact Middle School Teacher Job Satisfaction
AuthorMcNeill, Kristen M.
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ABSTRACTThere is a developing body of research suggesting low job satisfaction among teachers can lead to potential consequences for educators, students, and school districts (Darling-Hammond, 2010; Ladebo, 2005; Sarnek, Musser, Caskey, Olsen & Green, 2006; Wu & Short, 1996). There is also a growing concern about the number of teachers who are going to be retire soon; this loss of experienced teachers may impact student learning. Recent research (NYSED, 2010; NCTAF, 2003) supports an assumption that job satisfaction is a major factor to increase retention of teachers; however, there is a need for more research in this area. As school districts experience teacher shortages, there is an increased need to recruit, hire, and retain highly effective teachers because of either teachers leaving the profession early or because of retirement. The purpose of this study was to examine the level of job satisfaction among middle school teachers employed at 13 middle schools in an urban school district, as well as to identify factors associated with teacher job satisfaction. The study considered workforce and policy issues which may be leading to highly effective teachers leaving the profession early, therefore impacting student achievement. Data were gathered utilizing the Job Satisfaction Survey (JSS), created by Dr. Paul Spector (1985). The JSS assesses job satisfaction in nine subscales that include pay, promotion, supervision, nature of work, operating conditions, coworkers, communication, fringe benefits, and contingent rewards. These nine subscales are classified as either extrinsic or intrinsic factors of job satisfaction. Additional survey questions provided demographic data in categories including age, gender, highest level of education, subject matter taught, years to retirement, salary, total years of teaching experiences and the number of schools in which the teacher had been employed. Overall results suggest that differences among the various teacher groups were associated with extrinsic motivation rather than intrinsic motivation. For example, the youngest group of teachers scored higher on extrinsic motivation than did the oldest group of teachers. When significant group differences were found, these differences tended to be associated with the variables Fringe Benefits, Promotion, and Total Extrinsic Motivation. In addition, the group of teachers with the most experience scored lower on Extrinsic Motivation than did the group of teacher with less experience. For many of the various groupings of teachers, the comparisons were not significant. That is, the characteristics of the groups were not associated with differences in measures of motivation. In many instances, there were not significant differences across groups based on the overall Intrinsic Motivation and Extrinsic Motivation; however, differences were apparent on the individual subscales of the JSS. In general, the Extrinsic constructs were more important to younger teachers than were these same constructs were to more veteran teachers. A comparison of the responses of the teachers in this study to the response published by Spector was conducted for each subscale and for total assessment score. Thus, a total of ten comparisons between the results for the study sample and the teacher norms provided by Spector were conducted. Seven of these comparisons were significant: Pay, Promotion, Supervision, Working Conditions, Coworkers, Communication, and Total Score. In six of these comparisons of the means, the sample means were higher than the norm means; only Working Conditions were less important to the sample than to the comparison group. That is, for teachers in the study sample, these measures from the JSS were more important than for the teachers in the comparison group. The open-ended responses provided meaningful insight into teacher motivation with specific respect to “compelling reasons to stay in a school.” Compensation was a significant theme that surfaced during the analysis; however, issues related to compensation are part of negotiations between the teachers’ union and the school district. Therefore, this area is mostly beyond the control of a building level school administrator. The other significant themes were Teachers Value Support, Character of My Work, Importance of Students, and Need for Respect. These themes are not independent but each of these themes is subject to influence from within the school. The parallel studies conducted by both Cui-Callahan (2012) and Bumgartner (2013), mirrored the results found in this study. Specifically, all three studies showed teacher respondents scored higher in Intrinsic job satisfaction than Extrinsic job satisfaction. Finally, using the results from this research will help to inform other districts with information on what job satisfaction factors are important to teachers. It is notable that overall teachers scored higher at all levels with intrinsic motivational factors, but that younger, less experienced teachers rated extrinsic motivational factors higher. This will help school boards, district level administration, and building principals to be better informed as to demographics of teachers and how to best target job satisfaction type incentives to better recruit and retain teachers. In this era of teacher shortages, it can only benefit districts to have as much information and data as possible to attract teachers and to reduce teacher turnover costs.