How do U.S. teachers compare to those in other nations?

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Ever wondered how teaching in the U.S. compares to teaching in other countries?

Well, the OECD (the folks who also administer the PISA tests to 15-year-olds around the world) can answer some of your questions through the TALIS – a survey of 100,000 teachers and school leaders at lower-secondary level (for students aged 11-16) in 34 countries.

Here are some interesting highlights from the 2013 administration:

1. Job satisfaction

89 percent of U.S. lower-secondary teachers report that they are satisfied with their jobs; while much higher than overall job satisfaction in the U.S., it is still slightly lower than the international rate of 91 percent. Even more interesting, 84 percent of U.S. secondary teachers would choose to become a teacher again if they could while 78 percent of such teachers internationally would.

Surprisingly, despite their overall satisfaction with the profession, teachers in America and around the world do not feel like they are valued by the general public. Only 34 percent of U.S. teachers –and 31 percent of their international peers -- think society values them.

2. Self-efficacy

U.S. teachers are confident in their abilities in the classroom, with more than 80 percent saying they can craft good questions, control disruptive behavior, manage a classroom, and use a variety of instructional strategies (U.S. teachers mirror their international peers in these regards).

However, just 62 percent of teachers feel that they can motivate students who show little interest in school work – a rate lower than the TALIS average of 70 percent.

3. Initial training

Fewer than 80 percent of U.S. and international teachers report that they receive preparation in the content and instructional strategies of all of the subjects they teach. Moreover, just three-fourths of U.S. teachers report practicing in all of the subjects they teach in their preparation (just over two-thirds of their TALIS peers report such practice).

There's a lot more, including international data about working conditions (e.g., U.S. report 45 hour work-weeks but the TALIS average is 38) and professional development, in the U.S. country note.

-- Rob Rickenbrode and Curtis Valentine