A growing percentage of Davidson County educators note support in key aspects of their jobs, but fewer teachers here say their school is “a good place to work and learn,” according to a recent survey.
The percentage of licensed educators — public and private — who agreed their school is a good place to be at dropped 4.1 percent in the last two years, according to the TELL Tennessee survey released Tuesday. Seventy-nine percent of teachers in Davidson County attest their school is a good place to work and learn, compared to 83.4 percent statewide.
“Can you find 80 percent of people who agree with much of anything?” Kevin Huffman, Tennessee’s Education Commissioner, asked reporters after unveiling the survey results with Gov. Bill Haslam at Stewart’s Creek Elementary School in Smyrna Tuesday.
Of the state’s four largest counties, Davidson County teachers are the least likely to say their school is a good place to work and learn, compared to 82.7 percent in Shelby County, 82.1 percent in Knox County and 80.9 percent in Hamilton County.
View the survey results here.
The survey comes at the hands of the New Teacher Center, a national organization focused on developing high-quality teachers. The group administered the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) survey in Tennessee and 11 other states.
The Center first surveyed teachers in the Volunteer State in 2011, then again in February and March of this year. The focus, according to the survey, is to collect feedback on issues such as time during the day for collaborative instructional planning, school and teacher leadership, facilities and resources, professional development, and other support needed for educators to do their job.
“If you think about what we’ve done in the last two years — from changing the tenure process to, most notably, changing the evaluation process which has gotten a lot of attention — for results to improve during a time of fairly tumultuous change, I think really speaks well for Tennessee,” said Haslam.
Of the more than 6,400 teachers in Davidson County, 5,365 responded to this year’s survey, yielding an 83.4 percent response rate.
The survey found several dips on issues like teacher evaluations and performance among Davidson County teachers.
The percentage of educators who say procedures for teacher evaluations “are consistent” dropped more than 9 percentage points, according to the survey, from 82.5 percent to 73.2 percent. Those who said their performance is “assessed objectively” fell more than 6 percentage points, from 84.4 percent to 78.3 percent.
The survey also found double-digit jumps in teacher agreement in other areas. The TELL survey saw a boost of almost 19 percent among teachers agreeing state assessment data is ready in time to impact instruction, and a 12 percent jump of teachers agreeing local test data is also available. The tally of teachers who agree work is being done to minimize the amount of routine administrative paperwork climbed by 13 percentage points.
Almost 92 percent of teachers said they are encouraged to try new things to improve instruction. While that topic is the one most teachers agree on, that percentage is virtually unchanged from 2011.
Metro Nashville Public School officials declined to comment on the survey results and said they need more time to review the data.