School districts to address TELL survey results

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Local school administrators are discussing strategies to continually improve academic performance after reviewing the results of the 2017 TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Kentucky Survey.
Grant County School District Superintendent Matt Morgan said he is happy with the overall results of the survey, but added that the district always has room for improvement. Morgan said he hopes to see a greater rate of participation among teachers, as there was a more than five percentage point decrease in participation between 2015 and 2017, with 82.49 percent of teachers responding in 2017, compared to 87.97 percent of teachers responding in 2015.
Regarding class sizes, 72.4 percent of teachers said that class sizes are reasonable enough such that teachers have the time to meet the needs of all students, compared to 77.8 percent in 2015. Morgan noted that it is always ideal to have smaller class sizes; preferably around 15 per teacher, but budgeting and hiring limitations can make this difficult.
Morgan said he plans to meet with school principals later in the summer to further address some of the results of the survey, including areas in need of improvement. Such areas include adherence to rules of conduct, since 68.9 percent of teachers reported that students at their school follow the rules of conduct; compared to 82.7 percent in 2015.
The discussions with principals will also focus on ways to increase teacher confidence, since 62.1 percent of teachers surveyed said they feel comfortable raising issues and concerns that are important to them.
“We’re going to take a look at what they saw as positives and as negatives, and their plans to adjust the negatives,” said Morgan regarding his meeting with the principals.
Some areas of the survey remained constant, with teachers reporting efforts are made to minimize the amount of routine paperwork remaining relatively unchanged at about 51 percent.
Morgan said the school in the district with the most room for improvement is probably Grant County Middle School, which welcomes a new principal on July 1. He acknowledged that the middle school saw multiple significant decreases, and attributed them to a high rate of substitution last year.
Some of the significant drops at the middle school included questions regarding teacher leadership, with 61.2 percent reporting that teachers are trusted to make sound and professional decisions about instruction, compared to 92.9 percent in 2015. There were also concerns over enforcement of the student code of conduct, with 47.9 percent reporting that school administrators consistently enforce rules, compared to 85.2 percent in 2015.
Some of the numbers also reflect Morgan’s sentiment that middle school teachers were spread thin last year, with 56.2 percent of respondents reporting that teachers are protected form duties that interfere with their essential role of educating students, compared to 78.6 percent in 2015.
The district saw several notable increases on the survey as well, with 74.2 percent of teachers reporting sufficient access to instructional technology and Internet access, compared to 65.2 percent in 2015, and 82.4 percent reporting the reliability and speed of Internet at schools as sufficient, compared to 73.2 percent in 2015.
Grant County High School in particular made several significant gains, specifically in the professional learning category. About 73 percent reported that follow up is provided from professional learning, compared to 48.9 percent in 2015, and 89.1 percent reported that professional learning provides ongoing opportunities, compared to 55.1 percent in 2015.
Overall, 100 percent of high school respondents said the school was a good place to work.
Slightly more respondents district wide called their school a good place to work, with 89.8 percent in 2017 compared to 87.4 percent in 2015. Mason-Corinth Elementary School did experience a sharp drop in the category, with 66.7 percent calling the school a good place to work in 2017, compared to 81.5 percent in 2015.
Enforcing the student code of conduct is also a concern for the Williamstown Independent School District, according to superintendent Misty Middleton, with 76.8 percent of teachers reporting that students at their schools understand expectations for their conduct, compared to 90.2 percent in 2015. About 57 percent reported that teachers consistently enforce rules for student conduct, compared to 74.2 percent in 2015.
Middleton said she met with school principals and administrators in May to discuss the results of the survey. She said that although educators never take time to acknowledge their accomplishments, there is always room for improvement.
Middleton said she sent out her own survey that collects responses from all school staff, not just teachers, and plans to address their concerns as well.
The survey also reveals staff concerns about excess paperwork, with 61.1 percent reporting that efforts are made to minimize the amount of routine paperwork teachers are required to do, compared to 73.3 percent in 2015.
The district did see a slight dip in percentage of staff reporting the district as a good place to work overall, with 88.9 percent agreeing in 2017, compared to 93.5 percent in 2015.
The district’s increases mainly came in areas under the category of school leadership, with 89.1 percent reporting that teachers receive feedback that can help them improve, compared to 88.3 percent in 2015. About 77 percent reported that faculty is recognized for their accomplishments, compared to 71 percent in 2015.
Middleton said that she was specifically impressed with improvements in staff communication, as well as teachers increasingly being seen as educational experts and encouraged to take leadership roles.
“We do value the results, we do take them into consideration,” Middleton said. “We’re always looking at how we can improve … we’re always trying to make our school district the best place possible for our students and our staff.”
Overall, 90.32 percent of Williamstown staff responded to the survey, a drop from 98.41 percent in 2015.
Full results for both school districts can be found at tellkentucky.org/results.