skip to main content
In U.S., Newer Teachers Most Likely to Be Engaged at Work

In U.S., Newer Teachers Most Likely to Be Engaged at Work

by Shane J. Lopez and Preety Sidhu

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. teachers for grades K-12 with less than one year of experience are the most engaged at work, at 35.1%. Engagement drops to 30.9% for teachers who have been on the job for one to three years and falls further to 27.9% for educators with three to five years of experience. Engagement picks back up slightly for those who have been teaching for more than five years.

Workplace Engagement for K-12 Teachers in U.S.

This pattern -- of engagement dropping with more years on the job -- is similar in other occupation groups. However, the measurable decline in engagement by years of experience is smaller for those in other types of jobs. This is partly because new workers in non-teaching jobs having lower engagement to begin with than do new teachers.

The data analyze a cross-section of current teachers at various experience levels, rather than tracking the same teachers over time. This means that the data don't indicate whether teachers generally become less engaged after one year on the job, or if teachers currently at that experience level have been, and will continue to be, less engaged than teachers who are now on the job for less than one year or for more than five years.

The engagement findings are based on Americans' assessments of workplace elements with proven linkages to performance outcomes, including productivity, customer service, quality, retention, safety, and profit. These data are based on surveys of more than 7,265 American K-12 teachers, conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking from January through December 2012. Overall, 30% of American employees are engaged at work, according to Gallup's State of the American Workplace report.

Gallup's employee engagement index categorizes workers as engaged, not engaged, or actively disengaged. Engaged workers are deeply involved in and enthusiastic about their work and actively contributing to their organization. Those who are not engaged are satisfied with their workplaces, but are not emotionally connected to them -- and these employees are less likely to put in discretionary effort. Those workers categorized as actively disengaged are emotionally disconnected from their work and workplace, and they jeopardize the performance of their teams.

Overall, Teachers' Engagement High Compares With Other Occupations

Thirty-one percent of all teachers were engaged in their jobs in 2012, placing them fourth on a list of 12 different occupational categories. Teachers rank relatively high because they are the most likely of all professions to say that at work, they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day. And teachers are also more likely to strongly agree with the statement "there is someone at work who encourages my development."

Despite having higher engagement than the national average, teachers are the least likely of all occupations to say "at work my opinions seem to count."

U.S. Employee Engagement by Occupation Type


School leaders should make the most of the relatively higher engagement of today's newest teachers and support these educators throughout their careers to maintain this engagement. School leaders can focus first on selecting talented teachers and drastically improve the environment in which teachers and students work every day.

A key choice educational leaders make is who to put in the classroom, which is why hiring and engaging great teachers is a vital step to school success. Engaged teachers not only challenge students to grow, they also encourage and engage their fellow teachers, building the foundation for great schools.

Survey Methods

Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of Gallup Daily tracking Jan. 1-Dec. 31, 2012, with a random sample of 151,284 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.

For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

The margin of sampling error for most states is ±1 to ±2 percentage points, but is as high as ±4 points for states with smaller population sizes such as Alaska, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Delaware, and Hawaii.

Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones, with interviews conducted in Spanish for respondents who are primarily Spanish-speaking. Each sample includes a minimum quota of 400 cellphone respondents and 600 landline respondents per 1,000 national adults, with additional minimum quotas among landline respondents by region. Landline telephone numbers are chosen at random among listed telephone numbers. Cellphone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods. Landline respondents are chosen at random within each household on the basis of which member had the most recent birthday.

Samples are weighted by gender, age, race, Hispanic ethnicity, education, region, adults in the household, and phone status (cellphone only/landline only/both, cellphone mostly, and having an unlisted landline number). Demographic weighting targets are based on the March 2012 Current Population Survey figures for the aged 18 and older non-institutionalized population living in U.S. telephone households. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting.

In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit


Gallup World Headquarters, 901 F Street, Washington, D.C., 20001, U.S.A
+1 202.715.3030