Identification of Elementary Teachers' Risk for Stress and Vocational Concerns Using the National Schools and Staffing Survey

Teachers’ high job demands and low resources were significantly related to job stress, job dissatisfaction, and potential turnover. After the study of Vocational Concerns of Elementary Teachers (McCarthy, Lambert, & Reiser, 2014), the same authors  conducted a similar research with a much larger sample (Lambert, McCarthy, Fitchett, Lineback, & Reiser, 2015). The new study was to Identify elementary teachers’ risk for stress and vocational concerns using the National Schools and Staffing Survey.

This research was based on the job demands-resource (JD-R) model that conceptualized teacher stress as caused by a perceived imbalance of teachers’ classroom demands and resources (Lambert et al., 2015). Lambert et al. (2015) assessed teachers’ perceived demands and resources based on the Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) dataset. The sample of this study contained 9,300 full-time public school elementary teachers who participated in 2000 and 2008 SASS survey in the United States. The SASS was administered by the National Center for Education Statistics. It contained many items similar to the Classroom Appraisal of Demands and Resources (CARD) scale used in previous study. Like the previous study, the SASS scores were assessed to classify teachers into three groups: resourced group, balanced group, and demand group.

The results revealed significant differences between these groups in terms of teacher stress and vocational concerns. Approximately a quarter of elementary teachers, classified in the demand group, were considered as at risk for occupational stress; they had lower levels of job satisfaction and were more likely to be planning to leave the profession. Comparing to the resourced and balanced groups, the demand group teachers perceived significantly lower autonomy in both school influence and classroom control dimensions (Lambert et al., 2015).

As discussed in Lambert et al. (2015), appraisals of high demands alone might not always lead to stress. Instead, a teacher’s perceptions that the level of demands exceeds their perceived classroom resources could be the determinant factor of teacher stress. With this understanding, future studies may examine teachers’ job stressors in both demand and resource dimensions. The investigation of multiple stress factors could lead to better insights of why some teachers were more vulnerable to stress than others when experiencing the same workforce realities (Lambert et al., 2015).


Lambert, R. G., McCarthy, C. J., Fitchett, P. G., Lineback, S., & Reiser, J. (2015). Identification of elementary teachers’ risk for stress and vocational concerns using the National Schools and Staffing Survey. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 23(43), 1-37.

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