Teachers valued most in China

Teachers aren’t valued highly in 21 countries in the Varkey GEMS Foundation’s Global Teacher Status Index. China ranks first in respect for teachers. The U.S. is about average. Israel is last. Except for China, high status for teachers doesn’t correlate with high academic performance. Greece and Turkey respect their teachers, but post low scores on international tests. The Japanese are low on teacher status, high in test scores.

Status isn’t linked to salaries. In Greece the status of teachers is high, but their compensation is low. In Germany and Switzerland, teacher earnings are relatively high, respect is low.

The Chinese compare teachers to doctors. Americans see teachers as similar to librarians. In most countries surveyed, teachers are equated with social workers. However, in France and Turkey, they’re seen as most like nurses.

teacher status findings

Pay-for-performance is supported strongly just about everywhere, notes John Merrow of Learning Matters TV. In the U.S., 80 percent said teachers should be “rewarded in pay according to their pupils’ results.”

While most people said teachers should be paid more, they didn’t know how much teachers earn. Americans think “teachers make about $36,000 a year but believe they should paid about $40,000,” writes Merrow. “However, the true average salary, the study says, is $46,000.”

Would you want your child to be a public school teacher? A third of Americans would “probably” or “definitely” encourage their child to become a teacher. That’s higher than in 14 other countries. Half of Chinese, but only 8 percent of Israelis, would urge their children to consider teaching. I always thought Finns were high on their teachers, but only 20 percent said they’d want their own kids to be one in this survey.

If there are any Finns — and Israelis — reading, does this ring true?

About Joanne


  1. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about China lately, and their schools are not anything to get worked up about. They certainly don’t seem to respect teachers.

    I don’t know if any of you followed Seeing Red in China, but the blogger wrote often about teaching and education. It’s not pretty.


    • Deirdre Mundy says:

      But…. but…. Shanghai!!!!! I think people looking at schools in foreign countries often see only the best and most visible. It’s like if you formed your opinion on the US system based on all those positive articles about New Trier a few years back….

      To be fair, We do this with our own ‘best counties’ too… For instance, Montgomery County, MD, gets its rep from Wooton and Whitman. They never bring up Springbrook….

  2. I am a former Israeli teacher. This definitely rings true. In Israel, teachers have been underpaid and many Israelis perceive them as glorified babysitters. When I used to tell people I was teaching high school, I usually got looks of pity or backhanded praise like “the public system needs good people like you”. My students were shocked to learn that I had graduated in the top 10% of my college class. And I could go on.

    The upside is that public awareness of education issues nowadays is quite high. Many Israelis know and care about Israel’s PISA rankings. Major reforms promise to raise teacher pay and provide teachers with opportunities to tutor students and collaborate with peers. There’s talk of cancelling certain nationwide exit exams, ostensibly giving schools more autonomy in how they perform summative assessment. How will all this play out? Time will tell.

  3. AnnaMaria Preston, Ed.D. says:

    I don’t know how ‘valued’ being a teacher in Finland is even though I am from Finland, but I do know that it is as difficult to get into the University Dept. of Education as it is to earn a space in the Law School or Medical School. The autonomy of teachers in Finland is amazing and no teacher can be teaching without a Masters Degree. I also read an article where The Angry Birds are just signed a deal for a content delivery program –video game– to the Shanghai School system to encourage critical thinking skills. http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/angry-birds-arrive-in-shanghai-classroom INTERESTING!