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News Release - "TELL" Survey Interim Reports Provide Information on General Trends of Teaching Conditions

May 11, 2011

News Release

Series of “TELL” Survey Interim Reports Provide Information on General Trends of Teaching Conditions Across The State Over The Past Two Years

A series of three interim “Teaching, Empowering, Leading & Learning (TELL)” Colorado Survey reports presented to the Colorado State Board today reveal that educators are more positive about conditions today than they were in 2009, when an initial TELL Survey was conducted.

Survey results reveal that more than eight out of 10 educators agree their school is a good place to work and learn. More than nine out of 10 educators agree that their facility is committed to helping every student learn. Three-quarters of educators agree that students at their school follow rules of conduct.

These are a few of the findings in three reports based on the second iteration of the TELL Survey, which drew responses from 30,000 educators--an 11 percent increase in participation since the first survey, conducted in 2009 (23,000 educators or 36 percent).

Fifty percent or more of faculty in almost 850 schools across the state provided perceptions of the teaching and learning conditions

in which they work, including whether they have the kind of supportive school environments necessary for them to help students learn.

Included in the respondents are the voices of 667 Colorado principals who responded not only to questions about the teaching conditions in their school, but also to the supports they receive from their district.

The three research briefs—“What are the Voices of Colorado’s Teachers Telling Us?”; “Supporting New Teachers”’ and “Supporting Principals to Create Positive Teaching and Learning Conditions”—are available at: http://tellcolorado.org/

The TELL survey was authorized by House Bill 08-1384, which called for the Colorado Department of Education to conduct a biennial survey of teaching and learning conditions. The statute states that “these conditions must be systematically studied and addressed for Colorado to develop a critical mass of teachers who are well-prepared to teach and who will remain in the hardest-to-staff schools long enough to make a significant difference for students and their families.”

During a wide-ranging discussion about the survey, members of the state board asked questions about how the survey was publicized, about the methodology and results.

Board Member Marcia Neal asked about the effort to make schools aware of the survey and Board Member Angelika Schroeder asked if the time of year that the survey is administered impacts the results.

Board Member Paul Lundeen asked about the low response rate from Denver Public Schools and the steps taken to validate the overall state results, among other issues.

Board Member Jane Goff asked about the gap in responses between teachers and principals and Board Member Debora Scheffel urged that the data be benchmarked “against the things that really matter,” especially student achievement.

Among many findings from the TELL Survey:

  • On every question that was asked in both 2009 and 2011, a greater percentage of educators agree in 2011 that positive conditions are in place.
  • Colorado educators report more challenges in the area of time than in any other condition, but improvements are evident across all of the questions pertaining to time since 2009.
  • Important growth was observed in acknowledgement of teacher expertise. Of teachers polled in 2009, 63 percent felt they were trusted to make educational decisions. In 2011, that number rose to 76 percent.
  • Educators in Colorado report that they are very engaged in communicating with parents, guardians and the community. Ninety-three percent of teachers said that they provide parents/guardians with useful information about student learning.
  • While 93 percent of educators report they work in a school environment that is safe, less (78 percent) believe that policies and procedures about student conduct are clearly understood by the faculty.
  • Aspects of teacher leadership still need attention. Less than two-thirds of respondents (64 percent) agree that their faculty has an effective decision-making process for making group decisions (up from 52 percent in 2009).
  • School leadership—including principals, teachers and all others assuming a leadership role—is viewed more positively than in 2009. Eighty-four percent of teachers in 2011 say teacher evaluations are fair, up from 65 percent in 2009. Sixty-eight percent say there is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect within their school.
  • New teachers were generally more positive about most conditions. They also report a greater need for professional development, particularly in classroom management and teaching methods.
  • Induction support is not systemic—one out of every five new teachers report that they are not assigned a mentor. About four in 10 say mentoring was effective in improving instruction and classroom management.
  • Principals in Colorado are very positive about several aspects of the support they receive from their school district, enabling them to create positive working conditions in their school. Overall, nine out of 10 principals agree that their school is a good place to work and learn. Eighty-five percent of principals who responded indicate that their immediate plans are to continue as principal at their current school with 2 percent indicating that their plans are to serve as a principal in a different school within the same district.

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