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How are Colorado teachers feeling these days? Good, state survey suggests.




Morale among Colorado teachers has taken a positive turn coming out of the peak of the pandemic, with the majority of educators who responded to a recent statewide survey — 86% — indicating their schools are good places to work.

Most teachers — 88% of those who completed the survey — also believe their schools are good places for students to learn while 89% indicated that they feel they have “supportive” communities.

The results build on teachers’ optimism toward their schools in 2022, when about 80% of teacher participants reported that their school was a good place to work and learn.

Still, chronic challenges continue to weigh on teachers across Colorado schools, including a widespread need for more support for students who have suffered trauma as well as students with disabilities and those learning English. Teachers also want more time for planning and professional development.

“While we’re seeing that our educators need more prep time and support, we’re also seeing that they are feeling positive about their schools and working conditions,” Colorado Education Commissioner Susana Córdova said during a media briefing Wednesday morning. “I think that’s really good news, particularly coming out of the pandemic when we know so many teachers were struggling with all the demands that were put on their time.”

The survey results — released Wednesday morning — are part of the Colorado Department of Education’s 2024 Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado Survey, conducted every other year since 2008 as a way to gauge how teachers, teacher assistants, paraprofessionals, school leaders, psychologists and social workers are faring in their schools. This year’s survey gathered feedback from educators over six weeks from Jan. 24 to Feb. 23, with help from the governor’s office, the Colorado Education Association and other Colorado education groups.

About 46,000 educators and school leaders — around half of those who could share their experiences — submitted responses, according to CDE. Most of those who completed the survey were classroom teachers.

The results paint a much brighter picture of the educator workforce than survey results released in December from a separate questionnaire conducted by CEA, the state’s largest teachers union. Input from teachers in the union’s 2023-24 Colorado State of Education Report revealed a dire outlook in the classroom, with teachers worried about school safety, strapped by staff shortages and struggling to make ends meet for their families. 

Colorado Education Commissioner Susana Córdova talks to a group of third graders at Westview Elementary School in Northglenn on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023, before announcing a statewide grant that is covering the cost of $800 worth of classroom supplies for individual teachers as they help kids accelerate their learning after the pandemic disrupted their school days. (Erica Breunlin, The Colorado Sun)

Nearly 60% of educators who responded to CEA’s survey said they were considering leaving education in the near future.

What’s behind the dramatic differences in teacher perspective from the two surveys?

For one, questions asked on the surveys were likely different, Córdova said. Additionally, teacher responses can vary based on the time of year they complete a questionnaire, and the two surveys might have collected feedback from different groups of people.

State education leaders acknowledge the added stress teachers have continued to deal with coming out of pandemic days of learning, including teacher shortages that thrust more responsibilities on those who have stayed in the classroom.


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“I think the last few years have really demonstrated that teaching is hard and that it’s especially hard when we don’t have the time that teachers need because of some of the staffing shortages to be able to do the work that’s so important to be effective in the classroom,” Córdova said.

She noted that when teachers have to sacrifice planning time to cover other classes, students benefit from learning from experienced educators, but those educators are robbed of the time they need to become their most effective.

During the press briefing, Córdova highlighted the need to open up more options for licensed teachers to work in Colorado schools and to expand the state’s workforce of substitute teachers.

School leadership is often the determining factor in teacher retention

Most teachers who filled out the survey indicated they feel equipped to give their students quality lessons, with manageable class sizes and access to instructional resources,

And more teachers reported plans to stick with their profession, with 6% of educators indicating they plan to retire or quit — down 9% from 2022 results and down 4% from 2020 results.

“This means, in our interpretation, that teachers are feeling good about their roles and more are choosing to stay,” Lisa Medler, executive director of accountability and continuous improvement at CDE, said during the press briefing.

While school staff and salary often influence whether a teacher opts to continue teaching, school leadership is most commonly the top factor that drives teacher retention, according to the survey results.