In June, the OECD released the TALIS 2018 results. The “Teaching and Learning International Survey covers about 260,000 teachers in 15,000 schools across 48 countries and economies.” The report “looks first at how at how teachers apply their knowledge and skills in the classroom in the form of teaching practices, with an accompanying assessment of the demographic makeup of those classrooms and the school climate to provide context on learning environments. The volume then assesses the ways in which teachers acquired their knowledge and skills during their early education and training, as well as the steps they take to develop them through continuous professional development over the course of their career.”
In this post, we share reflections from Professor Sam Abrams and news headlines from a number of countries.
According to Abrams:
The 2018 TALIS study leaves me with three concerns.
First, the data for teaching time for the United States continue to appear exaggerated. As I noted in my comparative analysis of teaching time in 2015, The Mismeasure of Teaching Time, the 2013 TALIS study reported that U.S. teachers at the lower-secondary level spend 26.8 hours per week (or 5.4 hours per day) leading classes. The average for the 31 countries surveyed for that study was 19.3 hours per week (or 3.9 hours per day). The length of the school day in the United States, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), is 6.7 hours. According to the TALIS survey, teachers are supposed to report only “actual teaching time,” nothing more. Covering study hall or seeing students for extra help should not be counted as “actual teaching time,” but that appears to be what U.S. teachers provided in the survey, given that typical lower-secondary teachers teach five classes running 45 minutes each, meaning a weekly load of 18.8 hours of teaching. Even if they teach six classes running 45 minutes, the weekly load would be 22.5 hours, not 26.8 hours, as reported in the 2013 TALIS study. The situation is worse with the 2018 TALIS study, according to which U.S. lower-secondary teachers spend 28.1 hours per week (or 5.6 hours per day) leading classes, compared to an average for the 48 countries surveyed of 20.3 hours per week (or 4.1 hours per day).
Second, this increase from 26.8 hours per week to 28.1 from 2013 to 2018 is nevertheless significant. Setting aside the interpretation of “actual teaching time,” U.S. teachers report a teaching load that has increased by 78 minutes per week. Such an increase did not happen for the teachers in the countries surveyed in 2013. Again, their average in 2013 was 19.3 hours per week. If we look at the countries in the 2018 TALIS study that were included in the 2013 study, we get an average of 19.9 hours a week, which means an increase in teaching time of 36 minutes per week (of the 31 countries in the 2013 study, all but Malaysia and Serbia were included in the 2018 study). This increase of 78 minutes per week–whether it came in the form of “actual teaching time” or monitoring study hall or seeing students for extra help–comports with the well-justified feeling among teachers across the United States of being overworked. The teacher walk-outs for better pay in 2018 in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona give these numbers additional context. Teachers are working more and getting paid less. And they had no choice but to protest.
Third, the OECD needs to do a more consistent job of reporting teaching time. On the one had, in their annual digest, Education at a Glance, the OECD publishes data from national administrative registers or surveys. On the other hand, in its TALIS studies, the OECD publishes data about teaching time from surveys alone. In response to my analysis in 2015, NCES withdrew its survey data from Education at a Glance. NCES had been reporting for years that “net statutory contact time” for lower-secondary teachers was 1,080 hours or thereabout, which translated into 6 hours per day for a 180-day year. That number came from the Department of Education’s Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS), which turned out to be significantly flawed, as I documented in my analysis. NCES subsequently used the number from the TALIS study: 981 hours. Going forward, in Education at a Glance, the OECD should use either administrative registers or surveys but not a mix. The result has been a misleading picture of how teachers in different countries work.
Headlines from Around the World
Teacher Magazine (June 28th) — Teacher Staffroom Episode 5: International research
Croatia Week (June 23rd) — Croatian teachers more educated than EU average, survey shows
CNA News (June 19th) — Singapore teachers work longer hours than OECD average: International survey
All Africa (June 30th) — South Africa: Minister Angie Motshekga Releases Talis Research Study Results
Inside Education (July 2nd) — #TALIS 2018 – What SA Teachers Are Saying
Business Tech (July 2nd) — 5 of the biggest problems South African teachers struggle with
FE News (June 19th) — Research and analysis: Teachers in primary and secondary schools: TALIS 2018
Forbes (June 20th) — It’s Recruitment As Much As Workload That’s Key To Tackling The Teacher Shortage
Education Drive (June 19th) — Survey: Despite long working hours, US teachers satisfied with jobs
The Progressive Pulse (June 20th) — Teachers enjoy the work, but don’t think they’re appreciated