Testing a model of teacher satisfaction

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The primary purpose of this study was to construct and test a model of the influences affecting teachers' job satisfaction. To test the model, a representative sample (N = 512) of early-career (those with less than seven years teaching experience) public school teachers in the Commonwealth of Virginia was used.

The path model proposed is a set of structural equations that consider the job satisfaction of a teacher to be a function of four exogenous variables--the teacher's sex, age, years of teaching experience, and socioeconomic status of family of origin--and three endogenous variables--the teacher' s scholastic achievement, the school climate where the teacher is employed, and the teacher's commitment to staying in teaching. Because of possible interactions caused by differing parameters between blacks and whites, the model was analyzed separately for white teachers and for black teachers.

Results of the LISREL analyses indicated that teachers' perceptions of the school climate where they are employed and teachers' commitment to staying in teaching were the two most important influences on teacher job satisfaction. For white teachers, females tended to be more committed to teaching than did their male counterparts. For the black teachers, no such distinction was evident. Also, white females tended to be more satisfied than the white males; black females tended to be less satisfied than the black males. Perhaps most importantly, the lower achieving whites tended to be more satisfied in their teaching positions than did higher achieving whites. For blacks, no differences in the effects of achievement level were noted. These differences illustrate that the process leading to teacher job satisfaction is similar for whites and blacks, but there are critical differences within the model itself in how the variables interact with one another.

Recommendations for future research include further work with broader based populations of teachers as well as follow-up with teachers now under study. A look at politically feasible ways to improve the "quality of life" for teachers is also encouraged.