The Global Teacher Status Index Is Now Available

There is a new study out this morning that ranks the status of teachers in various countries. It’s called the “Global Teacher Status Index” and is published by the Varkey GEMS Foundation. The 2013 study aims to showcase where teachers are, what they’re doing, and where they’re going. I’ve been reading through the report (download it here) over the past few days and it’s quite interesting.

For starters, check out the chart below (available in the report linked above) that shows which country respects the profession of teaching the most. As you can see, China, Greece, and Turkey lead the pack. The US and UK are in the middle of the pack. Israel and Brazil are at the tail end. Was that what you expected?

teacher status findings

teacher status rankings

Join The Conversation!

twitter_hashtags_tig_global_blog_sept_2011Before you dive into the findings, join the conversation about the study on Twitter later today! It’s happening with the #TeacherIndex hashtag on Twitter and all you have to do is include it in your tweets. Click this link to view the dedicated hashtag page on Twitter. See you there!

Here are some more key points that you probably want to know:

Key Findings In The US

1. In the US, teachers are paid considerably more than people estimate. They are also paid more than people think of as a fair amount.  The only other countries polled that think that teachers are paid more than they deserve in the survey are Japan, France, Singapore, South Korea, China and Egypt. 

2. People in the US are more likely to believe that their students respect their teachers than people in Europe.  36% of people say that students respect teachers while 30% of people say that they don’t respect teachers. This figure, however, is significantly lower than in China.

3. 80% of people in the US support performance related pay for teachers.

4. US respondents were slightly more likely than the survey average to say that they trusted teachers to deliver a good quality education.

5. US respondents showed a middling to high degree of trust in their education system. They ranked it more highly than Chinese respondents ranked their own system.

6. In the US, primary school teachers were ranked higher in terms of status than secondary school teachers and were ranked above primary school teachers in every European country polled.

7. In the US 40% of people thought that teacher unions had too much influence in determining teachers’ pay and conditions compared to 32% who thought that they had too little influence.

8. 32% of people in the US would probably or definitely encourage their child to be a teacher – which his higher than in every European country apart from Greece. Fewer than 25% would probably or definitely discourage their child from becoming a teacher.

International Key Findings

1.There is a high level of support for teachers to be paid according to their pupils’ results in all 21 countries surveyed. In all countries more than 59% of people supported performance related pay.

2. Two-thirds of countries judge the professional status of teachers to be most similar to that of social workers.  In the US, Brazil, France and Turkey, however, people think teachers are most similar to librarians.  Only in China do people think of teachers as being most closely compared to doctors.

3. There are huge disparities across the countries polled on whether parents would provide positive encouragement for their own children to be teachers. While fifty per cent of parents in China would provide positive encouragement, only eight per cent would do so in Israel. Generally, countries with a higher respect for teachers are more likely to encourage their child to enter the profession.

4. Across Europe there are higher levels of pessimism about students’ respect for teachers than in Asia and the Middle East. In most of the European countries surveyed, more respondents thought that pupils disrespected teachers than respected them. In China, by contrast, 75% of respondents believed that students respected teachers.

5. Teachers are given satisfactory or positive trust ratings in every country polled. The average trust rating is 6.3 out of 10 and no country gave a rating below 5 out of 10. Finland and Brazil hold the most trust for their teachers while Israel, South Korea, Egypt and Japan hold the least.  There is no statistical association between how good an education system is in terms of PISA scores and how much trust the population puts in its teachers.

6. Opinion was divided across the 21 countries about whether teaching unions have too much or too little influence over teacher’s pay and conditions. In the UK, and in many European countries, more people support unions having more influence over pay and conditions than support diminishing their influence.  However countries where there is the most recent history of teacher unrest – such as Japan, Greece, France and the US – have the highest proportion of people who think that teachers’ unions have too much influence.  

7. There are significant differences between the status of teachers worldwide. However, there is no clear correlation between Teacher Status as measured in the Index and student outcomes in a country, even though a link between teacher pay and pupil outcomes has been established.

global teacher status index

More Information

Looking for a press release? Of course you are! Check it out below:


Teachers in the US have a higher status than most countries in Europe but lag behind China in the first ever Global Teacher Status Index, the only comprehensive effort to compare attitudes towards teachers across 21 countries.  The study found that the US was ranked in the middle of the index – higher than every other European country surveyed apart from the Netherlands.

Published today by the Varkey GEMS Foundation, The 2013 Global Teacher Status Index is written by Peter Dolton, Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and Dr Oscar Marcenaro-Gutierrez, Associate Professor at the Department of Statistics and Econometrics at the University of Malaga and is based on in-depth opinion polling by Populus in 21 countries.  The countries have then been ranked in an index based on this polling data. One thousand respondents were polled each in Brazil, China, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Turkey, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, the UK and the United States.

According to the index, teachers have the highest status in China and the lowest status in Israel. In China, South Korea, Turkey, Egypt and Greece teachers have a higher status than in all other European and Anglo Saxon countries surveyed.

The public in these 21 countries were asked questions exploring how teaching is compared to other professions, whether teachers’ earnings are judged to be fair, whether people would encourage their own children to become teachers, and how far people think that pupils respect teachers.  People were also asked about comparative attitudes towards primary school teachers, secondary school teachers and head-teachers as well as their general attitudes towards the education system. Finally, they were asked whether teacher unions have too much power over teachers’ pay and conditions.

When asked which professions had a comparable status to teaching, people in the US were twice as likely to compare teachers to librarians as any other professions. Less than five per cent of people compared the status of teachers to that of doctors.

There have been many international education comparisons such as the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) annual Education at a Glance. But this is the first time that there has been a comparative study of the status of teachers around the world.

Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation, said:

“It is my ambition that teachers are treated with as much respect as doctors. Sadly, in many countries around the world teachers no longer retain the elevated status that we used to take for granted.  Over time, the declining respect for teachers will weaken teaching, weaken learning, damage the learning opportunities for millions and ultimately weaken societies around the world.” 

Former UK Schools Minister and Labour Peer Andrew Adonis said:

“To recruit the brightest and best, teaching needs to be a high status occupation, and we need to understand better what contributes to the social standing of teachers. This is why the new VGF Teacher Status Index is so important.

“The VGF index will be immensely valuable as a means of stimulating debate on education reform- just as the first publication of PISA data did at the turn of the century. For this reason, the VGF index deserves to make a big impact.”

Peter Dolton, Professor of Economics at Sussex University, said:

“We find that there are major differences across countries in the way teachers are perceived by the public. This informs who decides to become a teacher in each country, how they are respected and how they are financially rewarded.  Ultimately, this affects the kind of job they do in teaching our children.”


  1. John Lerch

    October 3, 2013 at 9:20 am

    It seems to me that access to a truly free press determines the answer to all these question. So e,g, the Chinese have no idea what’s going on in the rest of their country.
    And all the questions have answers which depend on about where and how you’re talking. So e.g. teachers should be rated on students’ performance but not on standardized tests. I respect teachers about like doctors in good schools, about like janitors in bad schools (although I trust many janitors more than many doctors). Unions should have more say in the red states, less in the rust bucket states.
    Israel ranks low because they’re 2 countries–a free one and predominantly a biased fundamentalist religious one. So the free one respects their own teachers but fear the fundamentalist bigots that are being foisted on their society.
    With those 2 main criteria in mind, I think that most country’s results correlate highly with free press and a free society and small monolithic society.

  2. David

    October 4, 2013 at 12:43 am

    John Lerch, you live where and base this on what? I’m living in China and can say the people here know exactly what’s going on in their country. I suppose you’ve lived in China, Israel and any other country you comment on? A shame the first and only comment I read is from a name calling individual high on his own remarks.

    Living in China and previously in North America, I’ve learned to respect people, nations and governments and not pass judgments. I suggest finding a hole…

  3. Mark Martin

    October 5, 2013 at 12:21 am

    Surprising that Canada wasn’t considered in this survey. I would be curious to find out. Alberta’s educational system has been rated the top English system in the world. The average pay is also almost double to that of America. Most here don’t consider performance based to be a realistic approach to pay on the basis of huge socioeconomic changes within regions. Keeping this mindset and retaining quality teachers has proved very beneficial.

  4. Advexis

    November 21, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    ya i can’t believe this whole article when the actual amount of money teachers earn is not correct. Japans teachers earn way more than the ones in America. I’m not saying just a little more, I mean about $12,000 more if not more. Japan being that low as well on the respect towards teachers made me laugh some. Japan has so much respect towards the teachers that they school day cannot start until the students bow to the teachers. If a student is in trouble or does something awful or steals etc…. the teachers are notified first over the parents. The teachers in Japan are held in such high respect due to the responsibility of molding a good citizen. I am not sure where you got your facts from, but you might want to relook at them.