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Teacher Workforce

November 2020


What research or resources are available on metrics used to measure teacher working conditions or teacher well-being?


Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for resources, research reports, descriptive studies, and literature reviews on metrics used to measure teacher working conditions or teacher well-being. For details on the databases and sources, key words, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Collie, R. J., Shapka, J. D., Perry, N. E., & Martin, A. J. (2015). Teacher well-being: Exploring its components and a practice-oriented scale. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 33(8), 744–756.

From the ERIC abstract: “This study examined the psychometric properties of the Teacher Well-Being Scale, which assesses three factors of teachers’ work-related well-being: workload, organizational, and student interaction well-being. With a sample of Canadian teachers, results confirmed the reliability, approximate normality, and factor structure of the scale; provided support for a higher order factor of teacher well-being; showed the instrument functioned similarly across different sociodemographic subgroups; and demonstrated the well-being factors were related as expected with external constructs of teacher stress, job satisfaction, and general well-being. Combined, these analyses provide support for the use of the instrument as an assessment of teacher well-being and evidence of the importance of teacher well-being for other teacher outcomes. Implications for research and practice are discussed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Gunther, J. (2019). Quantifying the value teachers place on non-monetary factors when evaluating job opportunities. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27(45).

From the ERIC abstract: “How working conditions, personal characteristics, and school factors influence teacher recruitment and retention is an oft-studied topic in the field of education finance and policy. Through decades of research, it has become increasingly clear that teachers respond to a set of monetary and non-monetary factors when making decisions in the teacher labor market. What is less clear is the relative or absolute value teachers place on factors such as salary, student demographic factors, school conditions, and other working conditions such as class size, curricular autonomy, and principal support, to name a few. This project introduces the use of a novel survey methodology, Adaptive Choice-Based Conjoint (ACBC) analysis, to quantify the relative importance of various monetary and non-monetary job factors to practicing teachers as they consider the desirability of various hypothetical schools. The use of ACBC estimates the value placed on various working condition factors by secondary teachers in Utah and how those valuations vary with personal and demographic factors. This research provide practical recommendations for administrators and policymakers that aim to make schools more desirable for teachers and demonstrates the use of ABC to answer outstanding questions in the field of teacher recruitment and retention.”

Kaynak, N. E. (2020). A close look at teachers’ lives: Caring for the well-being of elementary teachers in the US. International Journal of Emotional Education, 12(1), 19–34.

From the ERIC abstract: “The purpose of this qualitative study is to shed light on elementary teachers’ perspectives on their sense of well-being, with emphasis on contextual factors that promote or block their sense of well-being. Data were collected through background questionnaires, teachers’ journal writings, and interviews with teachers. Findings reveal that teachers’ sense of well-being was fostered mainly by student growth and supportive colleagues. The major themes that emerged as negatively affecting teachers’ well-being were the influence of accountability testing, lack of power, sense of being scrutinized, student misbehavior, and heavy workload. The results of this study show the need for restructuring teaching contexts. When schools are places in which teachers feel valued, respected, empowered and involved in decision-making processes, they are likely to have a better sense of well-being.”

Mankin, A., von der Embse, N., Renshaw, T. L., & Ryan, S. (2018). Assessing teacher wellness: Confirmatory factor analysis and measurement invariance of the Teacher Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 36(3), 219–232.

From the ERIC abstract: “Previous research demonstrates that there is an association between effective teaching and teachers’ positive psychological functioning at work. The current study explores the factor structure of the Teacher Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire (TSWQ), which is a brief measure of two key dimensions of teachers’ positive psychological functioning: school connectedness and teaching efficacy. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted on TSWQ responses from a sample of 1,883 teachers across eight states, with results suggesting that the TSWQ is a structurally valid measure of its two purported teacher well-being constructs. Furthermore, measurement invariance analyses reveal that the factor structure of the TSWQ stays consistent across elementary, middle, and high school teachers. Taken together, findings from the current study further support the technical adequacy and, by extension, the applied use of the TSWQ in schools to screen for intervention, measure outcomes, and monitor progress.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Ni, Y. (2012). Teacher working conditions in charter schools and traditional public schools: A comparative study. Teachers College Record, 114(3), 1–26.

From the ERIC abstract: “Background/Context: Teachers affect student performance through their interaction with students in the context of the classrooms and schools where teaching and learning take place. Although it is widely assumed that supportive working conditions improve the quality of instruction and teachers’ willingness to remain in a school, little is known about whether or how the organizational structure of charter schools influences teacher working conditions. Purpose/Research Question: This article compares teacher working conditions in charter and traditional public schools and among various types of charter schools. In doing so, it seeks to understand whether the different working conditions are influenced by the intrinsic institutional features of charter schools such as autonomy and competition, or by the extraneous factors such as measurable school and teacher characteristics. Research Design: This study utilized data from the 2003-2004 Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), the nation’s most extensive survey of K-12 schools and teachers, both for charter schools and traditional public schools (TPSs). This article is a quantitative analysis that involves three main steps. First, based on the responses to the SASS teacher questionnaire, confirmatory factor analysis was performed to generate multiple factors corresponding to key dimensions of teacher working conditions. Second, propensity score matching was used to pair charter schools with TPSs that are similar in terms of school location, educational level, school type, and student demographics. This matching process mitigates the confounding effects of these extraneous factors on teachers’ perceptions of working conditions. Finally, a series of weighted Hierarchical Linear Models were utilized to compare teachers’ perceptions of working conditions between charter and traditional public schools, controlling for teacher and school characteristics. Conclusions/Recommendations: The results show that charter and traditional public school teachers perceive their working conditions to be similar in many regards, including principal leadership, sense of community and collegiality, classroom autonomy, opportunities for professional development, and adequacy of instructional supplies. However, charter school teachers perceive that they have significantly more influence over school policies, but a heavier workload than traditional school teachers. Among charter schools, district-granted charter schools show consistently more supportive working environments than charters granted by other organizations. This implies that state policy can have some indirect influence over charter school working conditions by providing substantial administrative support and oversight to charter schools authorized by independent organizations other than the established structure of school districts.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Olsen, A. A., & Huang, F. L. (2019). Teacher job satisfaction by principal support and teacher cooperation: Results from the Schools and Staffing Survey. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 27(11).

From the ERIC abstract: “Although turnover rates are alarmingly high for early career and veteran teachers, turnover rates are even higher for those who identify as a teacher of color. To increase the retention of teachers, job satisfaction has become an important construct to analyze. Teacher cooperation and principal support within the school are two influential factors that directly relate to job satisfaction. Using the restricted 2011-2012 Schools and Staffing Survey, a nationally representative dataset, principal support, teacher cooperation, and their moderation effects were analyzed in relation to teacher job satisfaction using a series of multilevel models. After controlling for teacher- and school-level characteristics, principal support and teacher cooperation were statistically significant predictors of job satisfaction for all teachers. The moderation effect between the two variables of interest and race were also statistically significant. These findings emphasize the need to maintain professional communities where teachers can interact and collaborate with the support of their school leaders.”

Renshaw, T. L., Long, A. C., & Cook, C. R. (2015). Assessing teachers’ positive psychological functioning at work: Development and validation of the Teacher Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire. School Psychology Quarterly, 30(2), 289–306.

From the ERIC abstract: “This study reports on the initial development and validation of the Teacher Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire (TSWQ) with 2 samples of educators--a general sample of 185 elementary and middle school teachers, and a target sample of 21 elementary school teachers experiencing classroom management challenges. The TSWQ is an 8-item self-report instrument for assessing teachers’ subjective wellbeing, which is operationalized via subscales measuring school connectedness and teaching efficacy. The conceptualization and development processes underlying the TSWQ are described, and results from a series of preliminary psychometric and exploratory analyses are reported to establish initial construct validity. Findings indicated that the TSWQ was characterized by 2 conceptually sound latent factors, that both subscales and the composite scale demonstrated strong internal consistency, and that all scales demonstrated convergent validity with self-reported school supports and divergent validity with self-reported stress and emotional burnout. Furthermore, results indicated that TSWQ scores did not differ according to teachers’ school level (i.e., elementary vs. middle), but that they did differ according to unique school environment (e.g., 1 middle school vs. another middle school) and teacher stressors (i.e., general teachers vs. teachers experiencing classroom management challenges). Results also indicated that, for teachers experiencing classroom challenges, the TSWQ had strong short-term predictive validity for psychological distress, accounting for approximately half of the variance in teacher stress and emotional burnout. Implications for theory, research, and the practice of school psychology are discussed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

von der Embse, N., & Mankin, A. (2020). Changes in teacher stress and wellbeing throughout the academic year. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 1–20.

From the abstract: “Teacher wellbeing has taken on increased importance in understanding contextual variables related to student academic, social-emotional, and behavioral growth. Despite its importance, little is known about how wellbeing and stress change throughout the school year. Single item measures may be a viable alternative to lengthy rating scales, particularly when measuring constructs across multiple time-points; however, further information is needed to understand the psychometric defensibility of these tools. The current study aims to address current limitations in the literature through a multifaceted examination of teacher stress, efficacy, and school connectedness. Specifically, the study explores the concurrent validity of three single-item measures by examining correlations between single-item scales and the Teacher Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire (TSWQ). Second, the study investigates changes in teacher wellbeing and stress across a school year via a weekly report of stress, efficacy, and school connectedness. Participants included 158 middle school teachers from a large, diverse district in the Northeast United States. Results indicated moderate to strong correlations between teaching efficacy and school connectedness single item measures with long-form rating scales of teacher wellbeing. In addition, teacher stress increased by nearly 20% from October to June, while school connectedness and teaching efficacy declined by a similar amount. Implications for assessment and intervention to support teacher wellness are discussed.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Whitebook, M., King, E., Philipp, G., & Sakai, L. (2016). Teachers’ voices: Work environment conditions that impact teacher practice and program quality. Berkeley, CA: Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, University of California at Berkeley.

From the ERIC abstract: “Early childhood teachers routinely face insufficient teaching supports and inadequate rewards for their education and commitment (e.g., low pay, lack of professional supports, and lack of benefits). These shortcomings contribute to poor program quality and fuel high levels of teacher turnover, preventing program improvement and making it increasingly challenging to attract well-trained and educated teachers to work in early learning programs. To facilitate the process of bringing teachers’ voices into quality improvement strategies, the Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) developed Supportive Environmental Quality Underlying Adult Learning, or SEQUAL, as a tool to document contextual information about workplace conditions that impact teacher practice and program quality and to build a vocabulary for the field around teachers’ needs for workplace supports. It is a multi-purpose, validated tool that addresses five critical areas of teachers’ learning environments: (1) Teaching supports; (2) Learning opportunities; (3) Policies and practices that support teaching staff’s initiative and teamwork; (4) Adult well-being; and (5) How supervisors and program leaders interact with staff to support their teaching practice. SEQUAL has been used by Quality Rating and Improvement Systems (QRIS) administrators and policymakers to understand the interplay between teacher education and the work environment, the relationship between teachers’ work environments and indicators of quality, and as a technical assistance tool, to guide improvements to program policies, practices, and conditions necessary to support teachers’ work with children. This report presents the findings from the SEQUAL study focused on teaching staff employed in programs participating in Quality Counts in the spring of 2016. Almost all of the programs represented in this report were contracted with the California Department of Education or Head Start to provide services, and accordingly are held to more rigorous standards than other licensed non-contracted programs in the county. This report, describes the design of the study, including information about the sample, the survey instrument, and the data collection and analysis procedures. The report next presents findings beginning with teaching staff responses to items in each of the five SEQUAL domains, including an analysis of how responses varied by site characteristics and quality ratings. The next section provides a detailed description of the personal and work characteristics of teaching staff and explores whether teaching staff assessments of their work environment varied with respect to these characteristics. The report concludes with a discussion of the implications of the findings and recommendations for action targeted towards funders and policymakers.”


Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • “Teacher working conditions”

  • Teacher Subjective Wellbeing Questionnaire

  • Teachers “well being” assessment

  • “Teaching conditions” “job satisfaction”

  • “Teaching conditions” psychometrics

  • “Teaching conditions” questionnaires

  • “Teaching conditions” “school effectiveness”

  • “Well being” psychometrics

  • “Wellness” psychometrics

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2005 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.