This study assessed the influences of certain school, teacher, and student characteristics on middle school teachers' job satisfaction in the four largest urban school systems in North Carolina. The focus was on the influence of school variables (student achievement on end-of-grade reading and math tests, school size, and teacher turnover rates); teacher variables (years of teaching experience, licensure status, educational level, and attendance patterns); and student variables (percent of minority and percent of economically disadvantaged students proficient in reading and math) on teachers' job satisfaction. The main hypothesis was that school, teacher, and student variables influenced teachers' job satisfaction. This research utilized Frederick Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory wherein the context and the content of a teacher's job determines his or her job satisfaction. This theoretical framework guided the selection of the North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey (2002) as the instrument to examine middle school teachers' perceptions of their work environments: time to plan lessons and work with colleagues, principal leadership style, participation in professional development, condition of facilities and resources, meaningful inclusion in school decisions, and leadership's acknowledgement of teacher's decision-making skills. Based on Herzberg's motivation-hygiene theory, the satisfaction of school employees provide information on the organizational effectiveness of the middle schools. Middle school teachers were chosen as the population for this study because of the trend of lower middle school achievement on state end-of-grade tests in reading, writing, and math (North Carolina School Report Cards, 2002). Also, very few middle schools in the four school districts chosen for this study made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in 2002-03. In reviewing the aggregate results of the North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey (2002), a higher percentage of middle school teachers were less satisfied with several aspects of their working conditions: school leadership, time, and facilities.
The literature presented explains the phenomena related to school teachers' job satisfaction. For example, teacher job satisfaction literature suggests that urban secondary schools with predominantly minority and low income students are places where teachers' job satisfaction seem to be the lowest (Markow, Moessner, & Horowitz, 2006; Li Feng, 2005; Ingersoll, 2003; Darling-Hammond, 2000).
In this study, 46 middle schools with 2,900 teachers comprised the sample. Teachers' answers to the 39 questions on the North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey (2002) were analyzed in relation to variables believed to influence teachers' job satisfaction. Those variables were: (1) school academic achievement in reading, (2) school academic achievement in math, (3) school size, (4) teacher turnover, (5) teacher attendance, (6) teacher's year of teaching experience, (7) teacher's educational level, (8) teacher's licensure status, (9) percent of minority students proficient in reading and math, and (10) percent of economically disadvantaged students proficient in reading and math. The Pearson r correlation statistic was used to analyze independent variables and their influence on teachers' job satisfaction. The dependent variable, job satisfaction, was derived from the mean scores of teachers' answers to the 39 questions on the survey. The correlation coefficients depicted that a relationship existed between independent and dependent variables.
The results of these analyses led the author to accept seven and reject three of the null hypotheses outlined; thus, determining that only three of the independent variables were significantly correlated to teacher's levels of job satisfaction. Specifically, the findings suggested no statistically significant relationship existed between job satisfaction and school size, teacher turnover, teacher's attendance, years of teaching experience, educational level, licensure status, and the percent of minority students proficient in math and reading. However, a statistically significant relationship between job satisfaction and school academic achievement in math and reading as well as the percent of economically disadvantaged students proficient in both math and reading was found.
This research highlighted the impact of teacher's job satisfaction indicated by an analysis of school, teacher and student characteristics on students' academic achievement on middle school end-of-grade tests in reading and math. Similarly, patterns of organizational behavior (subunit size, group cohesion and human interaction within the school organization, level of communication, work system interdependence among teachers, and absenteeism) were reviewed to examine the relationships between teachers' job satisfaction and the above characteristics.