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New Report Compares Teachers Around the World

The 2018 Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) covers about 260,000 teachers in 15,000 schools across 48 countries and economies.

The survey found that 67% of U.S. teachers under age 30 claimed teaching was their first career choice, consistent with the average for all participating countries. However, more than 73% of young teachers in Finland and close to 80% of young teachers in Alberta, Canada said teaching was their first choice. Moreover, 85% of young teachers in Japan and over 90% of young teachers in South Korea indicated teaching was their first-choice career.

Positive findings are that teachers in the United States are more likely to have received formal preparation on teaching students with special needs and on teaching in multicultural and/or multilingual settings, and feel better prepared in those areas than their peers in other OECD countries.

  • In the United States, 81% of teachers were trained to teach in mixed-ability settings as part of their formal teacher education or training, while 56% of teachers on average felt prepared to teach in such settings when they finished their studies.
  • Although 56% of teachers, on average, participated in professional development activities—

including teaching students with special needs—in the 12 months prior to the survey, a high need of training in teaching special needs students is still expressed by 9% of teachers in the United States (compared to 22% across the OECD).

  • In the United States, 70% of teachers were trained to teach in a multicultural or multilingual setting as part of their formal teacher education or training. Teachers in the United States feel better prepared to teach in multicultural and multilingual settings (48%) as compared to OECD countries and economies (26%).
  • Continuous professional development activities in multicultural and multilingual settings are more common in the United States, as 42% of teachers, on average, participated in professional development activities in this area in the 12 months prior to the survey. Still, about 6% of teachers in the United States express a high need for professional development in this area.
  • However, on average in the United States, 66% of teachers feel they can cope with the challenges of a multicultural classroom “quite a bit” or “a lot” in teaching a culturally diverse class, similar to 67%, on average across the OECD.

TALIS also asked teachers about their general preparation for teaching and continuing professional development. Findings for the United States include the following:

  • During their initial education and training, 84% of teachers in the United States were instructed on subject content, pedagogy, and classroom practice—a share that is higher than the average of OECD countries and economies participating in TALIS (79%).
  • Overall, induction and mentoring for teachers is more prevalent in the United States as compared to other countries and economies participating in TALIS. Sixty-one percent of teachers report having participated in some kind of formal or informal induction when they joined their current school, compared to 42% of teachers across OECD countries and economies participating in TALIS.
  • While school principals across the OECD generally consider mentoring to be important for teachers’ work and students’ performance, 22% of novice teachers (with up to 5 years of experience) have an assigned mentor. In the United States, this share amounts to 39%.
  • Taking part in some type of in-service training is commonplace among teachers and principals in the United States, with 98% of teachers (OECD average 94%) and 100% of principals (OECD average 99%) attending at least one professional development activity in the year prior to the survey.
  • Attending courses and seminars is one of the most popular types of professional development for teachers across the OECD. In the United States, 82% of teachers participate in this type of training, while 55% of teachers participate in training based on peer learning and coaching. It is interesting to note that teachers, across the OECD, report that professional development based on collaboration and collaborative approaches to teaching is among the most impactful for them.
  • Teachers in the United States appear satisfied with the training they received, as 89% report that it had a positive impact on their teaching practice, a share that is higher than the average of OECD countries and economies participating in TALIS (82%). It is also true that, in the United States, teachers who report participating in such impactful training tend to display higher levels of job satisfaction.
  • However, some areas of professional development are still lacking, according to teachers. Across the OECD, developing advanced Information and Communications Technology (ICT) skills is one area in which teachers say that they need more training, along with teaching in multicultural/multilingual settings and teaching students with special needs. Among these three areas, teachers in the United States expressed a higher need for training in ICT for teaching (10%), followed by an expression of need for training in teaching students with special needs (9%).

The full report and a United States snapshot are available on the OECD website.


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Jacqueline King

AACTE Consultant

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