Teachers give Polk schools good marks

Published 1:02 pm Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Teachers in Polk County got their chance to anonymously share their thoughts recently on how their schools are performing, and most did.

From March 15 to April 16, teachers across the state were asked to fill out the 2010 N.C. Teacher Working Conditions survey. The survey was conducted by Gov. Bev Perdue and the N.C. Board of Education, and administered by the N.C. Teaching Standards Commission.

Most teachers in Polk County participated, from 90 to 100 percent, at every school except Polk Central, where just 63 percent took the survey, down from a 91-percent participation rate two years earlier.

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If you ask workers about their conditions, you can expect to hear some complaints, and there were some poor marks here and there across the board.

But the overwhelming majority of teachers at five of the six county schools, by margins of 86 to 100 percent, said, Overall, my school is a good place to work and learn.

The overall good place rating was 76.9 at Polk Central.

Polk County Schools Supt. Bill Miller says hes pleased to see the generally positive responses from Polk teachers, but he said in a small system like Polk’s the administration knows teachers and students personally and thus does not need to rely on state surveys. (See page 6 for more from the superintendent.)

The following summarizes the Polk Schools results in the eight subject categories of the survey.

Use of time

The survey asked teachers about the use of their time, whether or not their class sizes are such that they can focus on children, whether the interruptions and paperwork are kept to a minimum, and if they have enough planning time away from the children.

Nearly half of the Tryon Elementary teachers responding wished for more time to collaborate with one another, and more planning time. The majority of Polk Central teachers, 56 percent, said there was too much paperwork.

Teachers at the other schools generally thought their time was being well spent.

Teacher leadership

When asked if they were being recognized as educational experts, trusted and relied upon, teachers at five of the countys six schools generally said yes, though about 36 percent of Polk County Middle teachers wished for a more appropriate level of influence on their schools decision-making process.

Nearly half the teachers who took the survey at Polk Central said they did not feel trusted to make sound decisions about instruction, nor did they have an effective process for group decisions.

School leadership

When rating their school leadership, Saluda Elementary received a perfect score, and teachers at all but Polk Central generally gave high marks across the board, with between 80 and 100 percent agreeing with each of eleven positive statements.

At Polk Central, however, 66 percent of those surveyed said they were not comfortable raising issues and concerns.

Sixty percent of the teachers filling out the survey at Polk Central disagreed with the statement, There is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect in this school.

Just over 40 percent of the teachers filling out the survey at Polk Central disagreed that they and the administration have a shared vision.

Teachers at Polk County Middle and Sunny View had one exception in their ratings of school leadership as well, stating that they also were not always comfortable raising issues and concerns 32 percent at Polk County Middle and 24 percent at Sunny View.

Student conduct

Students in Polk County were highly thought of by their teachers. By overwhelming majorities, most over 90 percent, teachers agreed with positive statements about students understanding and following rules, teachers and principals consistently enforcing the rules and their schools being safe.

Saluda teachers gave perfect scores to all seven questions regarding student conduct.

Questions regarding enforcement of student conduct rules recieved a few lower marks at Polk Central and Polk County Middle, where 25 to 30 percent of the teachers surveyed did not agree that rules were always consistently enforced by administrators, At Polk County High about 25 percent of the teachers thought rules were not always consistently enforced by other teachers.

Facilities and resources

The instructors were also asked to rate their schools facilities and resources items such as technology, professional support, cleanliness of the environment and internet service. School facilities across the county were highly thought of by the overwhelming majority, between 82 percent and 100 percent giving high marks across the board.

The only down marks came from Polk Central teachers, 35 percent, and Sunny View teachers, 24 percent, who said they did not agree with the statement, The school environment is clean and well maintained.

Professional development

Teachers assessment of the resources devoted to their professional development were more of a mixed bag. Nearly half of those taking the survey at Polk Central, Sunny View and Polk County Middle disagreed with some of the positive statements in this area of concern. They wanted more resources, time and better communication of the results. Only Tryon Elementary teachers rated their professional development opportunities highly across the board.

Instructional practices

The overwhelming majority of teachers rated their schools instructional practices and support highly, However, at Polk Central, 35 percent of the teachers disagreed that they have autonomy to make decisions about instructional delivery, such as pacing and materials. Thirty percent of Polk Central teachers also disagreed when asked if they thought they were assigned classes that maximize their likelihood of success with students.

Community support

Community support and involvement at Polk County Schools was also rated highly by teachers. However, about 35 percent of Polk Central, Sunny View and Polk Middle teachers did not agree that, Parents/guardians are influential decision makers in this school.

A user guide to the N.C. Teacher Working Conditions Initiative posted online at www.ncteachingconditions.org, encourages parents to advocate, communicate, volunteer and serve. The results from across the state are also posted at this website.