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Understanding Australian maths and science teachers’ job satisfaction

13 June 2019

International survey data suggests teacher satisfaction levels are lower in secondary school than in primary school.

The Australian Government inquiry into the Status of the Teaching Profession sought to ensure that the profession is fulfilling and rewarding for educators. While the inquiry's proceedings lapsed with the calling of the federal election in April 2019, the latest issue of ACER’s Snapshots series notes that large-scale surveys provide us with a nationally representative picture of teachers' current views of their profession.

The most recent of these is the 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) which, in addition to measuring the achievement of Year 4 and Year 8 students, surveyed their teachers about their job satisfaction. In Snapshots, ACER Senior Research Fellow Nicole Wernert analyses TIMSS data to identify potential aspects of schools and teaching environments that may impact on teachers’ job satisfaction.

TIMSS 2015 showed that 97 per cent of Australian Year 4 students were taught by ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ teachers. At Year 8, 89 per cent of students were taught by ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ maths teachers and 85 per cent by ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ science teachers. These results for Australia were similar to the international average.

Of the seven statements used to create the overall measure of satisfaction, ‘I am proud of the work that I do’ had the strongest positive response, followed by ‘I am enthusiastic about my job’. For both year levels, teachers’ perceptions of their school’s emphasis on academic success had the strongest relationship with their job satisfaction.

Interestingly, there was no clear relationship between teacher job satisfaction and students’ mathematics and science achievement. According to Ms Wernert, this may be because of the high percentages of students with teachers that were ‘very satisfied’ or ‘satisfied’.

A more up to date picture of teacher views of their working conditions and learning environment will be available when results from the 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) are released by the OECD on 19 June 2019. ACER will publish a national report, with detailed analysis of results within Australia, later in 2019.

Find out more:
Read the full June 2019 issue of Snapshots – Teacher job satisfaction

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