April 10, 2019
Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Board of Education (WVBE) reviewed initial findings today from a recent online survey, which solicited input from classroom teachers, counselors, principals and assistant principals on teaching and learning conditions in their schools. More than 7,000 classroom teachers and counselors completed the survey and nearly 500 principals and assistant principals completed the survey representing response rates of 34 percent and 41 percent respectively.
The survey addressed topics such as time, facilities and resources, community support and involvement, managing student conduct, and instructional practices and supports. One unifying theme emerged from survey responses – West Virginia schools dutifully attempt numerous strategies aimed at achieving continuous improvement and better student outcomes but too often need sustained support and greater flexibility to effectively implement and fulfill the potential of these activities.
This theme appeared across several areas within the survey. Principals believe they are involving teachers in leadership, but most teachers feel they have a limited role in shaping their school. Sufficient time and resources are generally put into professional development, but most teachers do not find it aimed at their specific needs. Teachers have the flexibility to shape their instructional practices, but they lack the time to collaborate with colleagues.
“The overwhelming response to this survey proves what we initially believed – educators want to have their voices heard,” said WVBE President David Perry. “The findings and recommendations will serve as a guide as we work to support educators with their most important job of educating our students and fostering continuous improvement.”
Most teachers responding to the survey reported feeling trusted to make instructional decisions (87%), encouraged to take part in leadership (80%), and that they have an appropriate role in decision making (72%). Principals indicated the top areas of needed support are teacher coaching, school improvement, instructional leadership and school finance.
Four recommendations were made following analysis of the survey results:
- 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 to ensure teachers have the time to focus on instruction and collaborative professional growth; and
- districts need guidance and support to empower principals by reducing administrative burden and involving them in making district-level decisions.
Initial findings from the survey were presented today prior to all other findings from the West Virginia Department of Education’s stakeholder input exercise because this survey was in process prior to Governor Justice calling a special legislative session. Questions were added to this survey concerning policy and specifically SB 451 once the plan for gathering additional input had been set. Findings from these questions will be presented as part of the full report available in May 2019. Today’s findings only focus on the initial survey questions targeted at teaching and learning conditions in schools.
A full report of survey findings can be found by visiting https://wvde.us/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/WVBE-Educator-Voice-Survey-Board-Report-on-Preliminary-Results_v2.pdf.