CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Most of the more than 7,500 West Virginia educators who took part in a state Department of Education survey said they need more time and flexibility in order to help improve student achievement.
Preliminary results of the West Virginia Educator Voice survey were presented Wednesday to the state Board of Education. The online survey, which launched March 13 and concluded March 29, received participation from 7,000 teachers and school counselors along with nearly 500 principals.
Assistant State School Superintendent Michelle Blatt told state Board of Education members the survey had a common theme.
“Everyone is doing everything they can. They’re working hard. They are trying to impact those student outcomes in what we need but often or not there are hurdles in their way along with the fact that sometimes we are doing too much,” Blatt said.
Most teachers who responded to the survey said they have very little time to join other teachers in collaborative planning, Blatt said.
“Twenty-five percent said they have zero time to do that while 48 percent say it’s less than one hour they have to do that during the week,” she said.
The time crunch also impacts school principals. According to the survey, “more than six out of every ten (64%) principals do not believe they have sufficient time to focus on instructional leadership. Nearly half (49%) of principals do not believe their school has an adequate number of professional staff to meet student needs.”
Flexibility is also an issue, Blatt said.
“Several pieces of data in here show that the flexibility is not at the school level, like we think it is, and even at the district level like we think it is at the state,” she said.
State School Board President Dave Perry the department and board need to take the information and use it to improve school systems across the state.
“There’s some good stuff here and how we make it available and what we do with it now is all-important,” Perry said. “I think we can’t ignore it or try and explain it away, we must take it at face value.”
The survey results will be included with information the department forwards to lawmakers and Gov. Jim Justice ahead of the resumption of the upcoming special session on education reform.
Blatt made the following recommendations:
–Teachers need professional development (PD) tailored to their specific needs and more time to sustain the learning from PD with their peers;
–Principals need sustained leadership training aimed at building their capacity to coach teachers, develop improvement plans, and empower teacher leaders;
–Schools need more professional support staff, such as social workers, specialists and librarians, so teachers can focus on improving and delivering instruction;
–Districts need guidance and support to empower principals by reducing administrative burden and involving them in making district-level decisions.
Other results from the survey:
–Nearly 95% of teachers and counselors believe their curriculum is aligned to standards. Over 85% believe they have autonomy over instructional decisions.
–About one quarter of educators (26%) do not work in PLCs to develop and align practices.
–Nine in ten (92%) teachers and counselors feel they are held to a high standard by their school leadership while almost as many (89%) believe school leadership facilitates using data to improve student learning.
–On the other hand, about one in three (34%) teachers and counselors do not believe there is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect in their school.
–Half (50%) of principals do not believe they are actively involved in educational decision making at the district level.