Results of Kentucky schools' survey posted online

kward1@herald-leader.comJuly 23, 2013 

C. ALUKA BERRY — The State/MCT

What do teachers think of the schools where they work?

Parents and anyone else in Kentucky who is interested can now find out online.

Certified staff in public schools throughout the state completed an anonymous survey about teaching conditions this spring. The results of the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning survey, or TELL, are available at Tellkentucky.org.

Teachers were asked about a variety of topics, such as whether class sizes were reasonable, whether the school was a safe place to work, whether they felt comfortable raising concerns with leadership and what kinds of professional development would be helpful.

Results are available for 1,296 Kentucky schools — those that had at least a 50 percent response rate and at least five responses. All public schools in Fayette County met that threshold and have results posted.

Fayette County Superintendent Tom Shelton said the results were important for improving schools.

"Happy teachers make happy kids," he said. "The more satisfied a teacher is with their working conditions, the more effective they will be."

Shelton said the survey indicated the primary challenges for Fayette schools were "cultural — how people relate to each other, how empowered they feel to make decisions."

Among the findings for Fayette County:

■ 55 percent of teachers said class sizes were "reasonable such that teachers have the time available to meet the needs of all students," but 45 percent disagreed.

■ 59 percent said "efforts were made to minimize the amount of routine paperwork," but 41 percent disagreed.

■ 64 percent agreed that "teachers have an appropriate level of influence on decision-making" at their school; 36 percent disagreed.

■ 66 percent said there was an "atmosphere of trust and mutual respect" in their school, while 34 percent disagreed.

Because results of the survey vary from school to school, board of education member Doug Barnett said changes are "going to have to come from the leadership level at the school and the site-based council."

He said the district's role was to provide resources and support to help schools make changes to improve the teaching environment, based on each school's needs.

This is the second time the TELL survey has been conducted.

Fayette County had about 68 percent participation when the survey was offered in 2011, but after a push to get more staff to take it, 98 percent participated this spring.

While this survey was only for certified staff members, Shelton said the district was working on a survey that would gather information about how classified staff perceive the culture and climate of Fayette County schools.

"We need to make sure that all employees feel valued in the process," he said.

Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety

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