Press Release

Fifth Annual Educator Confidence Report Introduces First-Ever Educator Confidence Index, Takes the Pulse of Teacher Sentiment across the United States

New Report Indicates Decline in Teacher Optimism, and Unanimous Alignment Around the Need for Stronger Social Emotional Learning Support

BOSTON — Learning Company Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) today announced the results of its fifth annual Educator Confidence Report, which revealed that for the first time since 2015, teacher optimism in the profession has decreased, hitting the lowest point since the introduction of the report. This survey of more than 1,300 K-12 teachers and school and district administrators, created in collaboration with YouGov, explores teacher sentiment across a broad range of topics.

In this year’s report, HMH introduced the inaugural Educator Confidence Index, a new score to serve as the “pulse point” on teacher confidence. The 2019 Educator Confidence Index indicates that teachers don’t give the state of their profession a passing grade, with an overall score of 43 out of 100. Top concerns span issues such as the increasing social emotional needs of students, low salaries and a lack of funding. As a wave of teacher activism took hold this year with strikes across the country, the Index reflects the complicated reality of the teaching profession. Overall, teacher optimism decreased to 34 percent — down 15 percentage points since 2018.

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“The significant decrease in optimism this year shows that the mounting pressures put on teachers have reached a tipping point. It’s critical that we listen to and address their concerns to ensure educators are fulfilled and optimistic about the future, which will ultimately result in better outcomes for students,” said Jack Lynch, CEO of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Additional key findings from the fifth annual Educator Confidence Report include:

  • While teacher optimism hit a low point, confidence levels vary across regions and school types. Teachers in the Midwest have a more positive view of the profession at 56 out of 100 (compared to 43 across the U.S.), while in southern states, teacher sentiment was the lowest, at just 37 out of 100. Sentiment varies across grade levels as well. Not surprisingly, the Confidence Index ranks somewhat lower in high-poverty schools (41) compared to low-poverty schools (46), as issues of equity continue to stymie efforts to close the achievement gaps and provide resources that these schools require.

  • Regardless of circumstance, educators agree that addressing the social emotional needs of students is their top concern. A vast majority (96 percent) report that they find students increasingly need more social emotional support, with three-quarters of educators noting these increased needs as a leading concern. These attitudes may be heightened by the lack of holistic, integrated SEL programs: 67 percent of teachers said they don’t have an SEL initiative at their school, or are unsure if they do.

  • Despite feelings of discontent around the profession, teachers are optimistic about the use of educational technology. Seventy-two percent of teachers report using edtech every day, and nearly all teachers (95 percent) have experienced benefits from using edtech. Most teachers (82 percent) agree that technology has empowered them to strengthen their teaching practice in ways they would otherwise not be able to do, including helping to close equity gaps through more personalized instruction.
  • Teachers agree that technology should be used to expand teacher capacity. When it comes to the role of technology in the classroom, 83 percent of teachers agree that technology should be used to extend and expand teacher capacity, and many (78 percent) agree that edtech’s potential has yet to be fully realized. And while technology can be a beneficial tool in the classroom, 95 percent of educators believe the human connection between a teacher and student is the most important element in the learning landscape.

  • When looking through the lens of high-poverty educators, the results highlight different areas of concern including salaries and funding. As noted, teachers in high-poverty schools are less optimistic and cite greater concerns than their counterparts in low-poverty schools. While high- and low-poverty schools are equally concerned about SEL needs, high-poverty educators are more concerned with low salaries, lack of funding, meeting the requirements of standardized state assessments and inequity in K-12 school systems.

“The teacher is at the core of everything we do at HMH, and supporting their relationship with students is our priority,” continued Lynch. “Having this data informs how we can continue to innovate and bring new solutions into the classroom to empower our teachers and improve student outcomes for all learners.”

About the Educator Confidence Report

The Educator Confidence Report is an annual independent study, distributed to a diverse national cross section. The fifth annual survey content was crafted and analyzed by learning company HMH and YouGov. YouGov programmed and hosted the survey with sample sourced from MDR’s (Market Data Retrieval®) educator database. The administrative group included school principals, superintendents, curriculum heads and chief technology and chief information officers. Teachers from across the K-12 spectrum completed the survey. Math, science, social studies, English language arts and literacy, in addition to general classroom teachers were represented.

To learn more about the fifth annual HMH Educator Confidence Report, please visit

About Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (NASDAQ: HMHC) is a learning company committed to delivering integrated solutions that engage learners, empower educators and improve student outcomes. As a leading provider of K–12 core curriculum, supplemental and intervention solutions and professional learning services, HMH partners with educators and school districts to uncover solutions that unlock students’ potential and extend teachers’ capabilities. HMH serves more than 50 million students and 3 million educators in 150 countries, while its award-winning children's books, novels, non-fiction, and reference titles are enjoyed by readers throughout the world. For more information, visit