What MCPS teachers think of their schools

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TELL Survey results show room for improvement on several fronts

By Stevie Lowery

Teachers in Marion County and across the state had the opportunity to make their opinions known on various school issues by completing to the TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Kentucky survey this past spring.
Locally, 85 percent of the certified staff in Marion County filled out the anonymous online questionnaire, and the results have been eye opening for district administrators and Marion County Superintendent Taylora Schlosser.
Teachers were asked about a variety of topics, such as school safety, school facilities, class sizes and whether they felt comfortable raising concerns with leadership.
Schlosser said there are three items that jump out as positives to her:
1.) Schools maintain clear, two-way communication with the community.
2.) Teachers have access to reliable communication technology.
3.) Teachers are relied upon to make decisions about educational issues in all schools (except Marion County High School).
There are also items that concern Schlosser, including:
1.) Teachers are concerned about their class size and amount of paperwork.
2.) Teachers feel a lack of support (in some cases from parents).
3.) Teachers have lack of trust and mutual respect from the district level.
4.) Concerns about policies and procedures sometimes are not implemented consistently.
5.) Buildings, in some cases, not being clean.
Many of the issues that teachers are concerned about directly tie back to funding, according to Schlosser, including class size, time for planning, time to work with colleagues, additional professional development, lack of text books and individual technology needs of teachers and students.
“All these things and more tie back to funding,” Schlosser said in an email to the Enterprise.
Schlosser also mentioned that building space is also an issue directly tied to funding, and in some buildings, especially at the elementary schools, the building is full and students can’t attend in their home community.
In terms of class size concerns, most classrooms in Marion County are under state cap, according to Schlosser. For example, the state recommends that high schools are staffed at 31 students to one teacher, but the local board of education staffs MCHS at 25 students to one teacher.
“It will be important to look at the board of education policy that determines staffing allocation, along with the SBDM council decisions that determine how staff is used at each school since council determines class size at each school,” Schlosser said.
In regards to teachers’ concerns about too much paperwork and not enough time to plan, Schlosser said she and the leadership team at central office need to examine what’s currently taking teachers’ time away from instruction.
“If there are things that we are doing just because we have ‘always done them’ and it causes paper work and/or time off task, then we need to stop doing those things,” she said. “We must constantly evaluate, reflect and refine what we are doing in our schools.”
Several schools in the district received low scores in regards to cleanliness, which Schlosser said will be addressed in the coming months when the district
implements a facility walk-through instrument in which a group of people will review the cleanliness and maintenance of a building on a regular basis. The results of the facility walk-throughs will be based on that group’s observations and will be shared with the principal and teachers, and a plan of action will be developed to address any concerns, Schlosser said.
Another area of concern based on the TELL survey results was student conduct, specifically regarding school administrators and teachers not being consistent with discipline.
“This is an issue that I believe we as a leadership team — principals and supervisors - can address through honest conversations about student behavior data,” Schlosser said. “The leadership team needs to develop a plan to ensure that all stakeholders know and understand what the expectations are throughout the school year and not just the first few days of school. Being firm, fair and consistent is always a good practice for all procedures.”
Based on survey results, there also seems to be a lack of “trust and mutual respect” at schools throughout the district. Schlosser said open and honest communication is key to addressing this concern and that teachers must feel safe to ask questions, address concerns and give suggestions.
“Teachers work directly with students day in and day out and know the needs of the children,” Schlosser said. “It is important to hear their concerns, listen to their suggestions and allow them to be a part of the solution when concerns arise.”
According to survey results, 82.1 percent of the teachers in MCPS feel their school is a “good place to work and learn.” While that is a high percentage, Schlosser said she wants it to be 100 percent.
“I want teachers to be satisfied with their work environment because when teachers feel supported then the students benefit,” she said. “Teachers should have a voice and need to be a part of solutions.”
Schlosser said with consistency, stability and support, she believes the district’s TELL survey results will improve within the next two years.
“I can assure you that MCPS will always be seeking means to improve every aspect of the teaching and learning environment for teachers, students and families,” she said.
Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Kentucky Survey
TELL Kentucky is an anonymous statewide survey of licensed school-based educators to assess teaching conditions at the school, district and state level.
• TELL Kentucky is an anonymous, online survey of every licensed school-based educator in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The 2013 TELL Kentucky Survey is second statewide opportunity for all licensed school-based educators to provide input on teaching conditions such as:
• Time during the day for collaborative instructional planning
• School and teacher leadership
• Facilities and resources
• Professional development
• And other supports needed for educators to do their jobs well.
The main intent is to provide additional data for school and district improvements. Results are also expected to inform state level policy.

The MCPS Survey Says…
In CES and GES, 100 percent of the teachers completed the survey.
LES: 85.7 percent
WMES: 94.1 percent
LMS: 65.6 percent
SCMS: 87.5 percent
MCHS: 78 percent

• 51.5 percent of teachers agree “class sizes are reasonable such that teachers have the time available to meet the needs of all students” compared to 64 percent statewide.
• 52.8 percent of teachers agree “teachers have time available to collaborate with colleagues” compared to 72.7 percent statewide.
• 62.8 percent of teachers agree they are “protected from duties that interfere with their essential role of educating students” compared to 74.2 percent statewide.

• 78.6 percent of teachers agree they have “sufficient access to a broad range of professional support personnel” compared to 83.9 percent statewide.
• 69.2 percent of teachers agree their school environment is “clean and well maintained” compared to 85.4 percent statewide.
• 84.5 percent of teachers agree the “reliability and speed of Internet connections in this school are sufficient to support instructional practices” compared to 75.6 percent statewide.

• 60 percent of teachers agree “parents/guardians are influential decision makers” in their school compared to 70.4 percent statewide.
• 76.7 percent of teachers agree that “parents/guardians know what is going on” in their school compared to 85.1 percent statewide.
• 54.4 percent of teachers agree “parents/guardians support teachers” compared to 70.5 percent statewide.
• 79.3 percent of teachers agree “the community we serve is supportive of this school” compared to 85 percent statewide.

• 75.5 percent of teachers agree that students “understand expectations for their conduct” compared to 87.4 statewide.
• 66.3 percent of teachers agree that students “follow rules of conduct” compared to 74.8 percent statewide.
• 78 percent of teachers agree that “policies and procedures about student conduct are clearly understood by the faculty” compared to 85.1 percent statewide.
• 56.4 percent of teachers agree “school administrators consistently enforces rules for student conduct” compared to 73.5 percent statewide.
• 70.8 percent of teachers agree “school administrators support teachers’ efforts to maintain discipline in the classroom” compared to 82.7 statewide.
• 70.4 percent of teachers agree “teachers consistently enforces rules for student conduct” compared to 80.3 percent statewide.
• 91.8 percent of teachers agree “the faculty work in a school environment that is safe” compared to 93.3 percent statewide.

• 66 percent of teachers agree “the faculty has an effective process for making group decisions to solve problems” compared to 74.8 percent statewide.
• 71.5 percent of teachers agree “in this school we take steps to solve problems” compared to 82.7 percent statewide.
• 82.8 percent of teachers agree “teachers are effective leaders in this school” compared to 87.2 percent statewide.
• 63.3 percent of teachers agree “teachers have an appropriate level of influence on decision making” compared to 66.6 percent statewide.

• 75.6 percent of teachers agree “the faculty and leadership have a shared vision” compared to 83.6 percent statewide.
• 60 percent of teachers agree “there is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect” compared to 74.5 percent statewide.
• 64.8 percent of teachers agree that they “feel comfortable raising issues and concerns that are important to them” compared to 72.1 percent statewide.
• 69.9 percent of teachers agree the “school leadership consistently supports teachers” compared to 79.6 percent statewide.
• 85.3 percent of teachers agree “teacher performance is assessed objectively” compared to 90 percent statewide.
• 74.1 percent of teachers agree “the school improvement team provides effective leadership at this school” compared to 83.7 percent statewide.
• 73.8 percent of teachers agree “the faculty are recognized for accomplishments” compared to 80.7 percent statewide.

• 74.9 percent of teachers agree “sufficient resources are available for professional development in my school” compared to 77.3 percent statewide.
• 53.1 percent of teachers agree “professional development is differentiated to meet the needs of individual teachers” compared to 65.2 percent statewide.
• 51.6 percent of teachers agree “professional development is evaluated and results are communicated to teachers” compared to 61.2 percent statewide.

• 66.5 percent of teachers agree “teachers are assigned classes that maximize their likelihood of success with students” compared to 74.1 percent statewide.

• 82.1 percent of teachers agree “my school is a good place to work and learn” compared to 85.2 percent statewide.

To see results for individual schools, go to: http://www.tellkentucky.org/results