TDOE, TERA Releases 2021 Tennessee Educator Survey Results

Monday, October 04, 2021 | 09:17am


Over 40,000 Educators Participated Representing 50% of Tennessee’s Educators


Nashville, TN—Today, the Tennessee Department of Education and Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA) released key findings and responses from the 2021 Tennessee Educator Survey from 40,000 educators, representing over half of the state’s educator population.

This survey collects data to understand educator experiences to provide direct feedback that will inform decision-making on key issues facing our schools and classrooms. This year’s survey included questions to explore the instructional challenges due to COVID-related disruptions.

State-, district-, and school-level data is now available on the survey results website and the Tennessee Educator Survey: 2021 Overview brief can be found here.

"Tennessee educators have now provided instruction during uncertain times for over a year. Their unique perspective is critical when determining the best way to maintain educator job satisfaction and positive school climate as we continue to navigate another challenging school year,” said Commissioner Penny Schwinn. “The department thanks the educators that took the time to complete this year's survey and is committed to using direct educator feedback to create strategies for developing effective teachers and school leaders. We hope this information will inform all leaders across Tennessee to support teachers as they serve our kids.”

Despite challenges due to the pandemic, 50% of teachers and 54% of administrators in Tennessee participated in the survey this year. The 2021 overview brief provides detailed analysis of key results for modules related to COVID-19 and the three areas of the department’s Best for All strategic plan- Academics, Student Readiness, and Educators. The brief also includes the department’s proactive responses to provide resources and supports to districts, schools, educators, and students.

Key findings from the 2021 survey are below:

  • Tennessee educators’ top COVID-19 related concern was students missing instructional time during the school year. Teachers indicated fewer challenges for in-person instruction than for remote learning during the 2020-21 school year.
  • Teachers continue to need more support to help meet the non-academic needs of students and families.
  • Despite a challenging school year, job satisfaction and perceptions of school climate remains positive among Tennessee educators – continuing a positive trend that began in 2018. 

“Tennessee educators showed resilience and innovation in delivering instruction to students this past year,” said Erin O’Hara, Executive Director, Tennessee Education Research Alliance (TERA). “We are grateful that over 40,000 educators participated in the survey during a pandemic. Through their responses, we have reliable data that will help us meet our educators’ needs during these challenging times.”

Each year, schools with high survey participation rates are selected via lottery to receive grants of up to $5,500 for staff appreciation. Chuckey Elementary in Greene County Schools, Niota Elementary in McMinn County Schools, and Wayne County High School in Wayne County Schools were each awarded $5,500 for participation rates of 90% or higher. Additionally, Alcoa Middle School in Alcoa City Schools and Altruria Elementary in Bartlett City Schools were each awarded $5,500 for participation rates of 65% or higher. Riverdale High School in Rutherford County Schools was awarded a $2,500 Newcomer Award for improving their response rate to 48% from 26% last year.

Westside Elementary in Robertson County won a $5,500 staff appreciation grant with a 91% response rate in the 2020 Tennessee Educator Survey. Their grant was used to purchase the school’s entire staff with shirts with the school logo to promote unity.

"We are so appreciative for that money. Morale could have really taken a dip this year, however we have been able to acknowledge and celebrate the small things that teachers do on an everyday basis because of this money,” said Principal Michelle Darnell, Westside Elementary School.

The Tennessee Educator Survey is a voluntary and confidential survey, open to all teachers, administrators, and other certified staff across the state. The 2021 survey included questions specific to educator experiences as a result of changes in instructional mode due to the pandemic. Survey questions, statewide results, the overview brief and more can be found here.

For Tennessee Department of Education media inquiries, contact