Teachers: MES has good highs and bad lows

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third of three stories looking at the results released by TELL Colorado, which surveys teachers in Colorado every two years on specific teaching/preparation conditions at their schools. This week we will look at Meeker Elementary School. In the past two weeks, we have examined teacher opinions regarding working conditions at Meeker High School and Barone Meddle School. All results are taken from the surveys turned in by certified teachers only.
Complete results for all three schools are available online at www.tellcolorado.org/results. There are hundreds of questions in the surveys; what follows is only a sample.

MEEKER I Teachers at Meeker Elementary School are very happy with some aspects of working at the school, yet equally upset with other conditions, stating notable dissatisfaction with leadership and chances for professional development.
The Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Colorado survey is an anonymous statewide survey of licensed, school-based educators regarding teaching, preparation and discipline conditions at their school.
Results are intended to support school and district improvement planning and to assist with policy decisions. The 2013 TELL Colorado survey was administered Feb. 6 to March 11.
More than half the results from MES instructors rated conditions at the school about the same or better than average compared to all elementary schools in Colorado. The 2013 figures are also split between rising above and falling below the teacher’s survey figures from 2011 results, which are also available as part of the survey.
There are three survey results for each school: site summary comparison (five printed pages); district summary results (six printed pages); and district detailed results (49 printed pages). For full results, visit www.tellcolorado.org/results.
The MES results are based on 22 teachers surveyed and 21 of those surveys returned, for an 95.45 percent participation rate, one of the highest rates of return any any school in Colorado. The percentage of surveys returned from Meeker High School was 82.35 percent while 81.82 percent of the teachers at Meeker Elementary School returned the surveys.
The most telling result regarding MES may come with the last question on the survey. It asks the teachers how strongly they agree with the statement: “Overall, my school is a good place to work and learn:” 83.8 percent of state middle school teachers agreed in the 2013 survey; it was 85.7 percent agreement at Meeker Elementary School, both well above the agreement percentage at Meeker High School
There were positive and negative results evident throughout the survey, but a look at some of the key questions posed in the district summary identify MES ranking higher than the state average in time management, facilities and resources, community support and involvement, and managing student conduct while coming in far below the average at Colorado elementary schools for teacher leadership, school leadership, professional development and instructional practices and support.
A sampling of the answers follows:
At MES, 66.7 percent of teachers said they had reasonable class sizes; only 55 percent of responding state elementary teachers agreed. Roughly 61.9 percent of MES teachers said they had sufficient instructional time to work with their students while 48.3 percent of state elementary teachers agree.
Eighty-one percent of the MES teachers agreed they had sufficient access to instructional technology, including computers, printers, software and Internet access to the tune of 81 percent, compared to 67.2 percent statewide. MES teachers agreed 100 percent to 90.6 percent statewide that they have sufficient access to reliable communication technology, including phones, faxes and email.
On the other side of the equation, 74.5 percent of the state’s elementary school teachers agreed that they had sufficient access to a broad range of professional personnel while only 19 percent agreed at MES. This was the only “Facilities and Resources” question where MES agreed less often than the other state elementary schools. Unanimously, MES teachers agree that they had sufficient access to school library resources compared to 90.2 percent statewide.
Responses were mixed on teachers’ perception of local support.
MES teachers agreed that the community we serve is supportive of this school: 90.5 percent at MES, 85.4 percent statewide. The school works directly with parents/guardians to improve the education climate in students’ homes: 78.5 percent statewide agree; 60 percent at MES.
This school maintains a clear, two -way communication with the community: 89.1 percent agree statewide, 76.2 percent at MES agreed. However, MES teachers agreed 100 percent with the statements that “teachers provide parents/guardians with useful information about student learning” and “parents/guardians support teachers, contributing to their success with students,” compared with 95.6 and 74.8 percent, respectively, statewide.
In five of the seven questions, MES teachers agree more consistently than their state counterparts did. At MES, 100 percent of the teachers said the students understand expectations for their conduct; it was 90.5 agreement statewide. More than 95 percent agree with the statement that students at this school follow rules of conduct, compared to 79.7 statewide.
MES teachers consistently enforce rules for student conduct: 95.2 percent at MES agreed compared to 86 percent statewide. Yet the question of the administration consistently enforcing rules for student conduct, statewide elementary school teachers agree 74.5 percent of the time; only 57.1 percent at Meeker Elementary School.
Under teacher leadership, MES teachers don’t rate each other very high in most cases.
Asked if they agreed with the statement that teachers in this school trust each other, the statewide agreement rate was 75.4 percent; only 50 percent at MES. The faculty has an effective process of making group decisions to solve problems: statewide agreement was 70.9 percent agreed; it was 25 percent at MES.
In this school, we teachers take steps to solve problems: 84.9 percent agreed statewide, but it was only 60 percent at MES. Yet 90 percent of the MES teachers believe that the teachers there are trusted to make sound professional decisions about instruction while only 79.2 percent believe that statewide.
Also under the topic of teacher leadership, the teachers were asked if their fellow teachers are effective leaders in this school. Statewide, 84.3 percent of the teachers agreed while only 70 percent of the MES teachers agreed.
MES teachers also don’t hold school leadership very high in their opinions. In only one question out of 23 asked do MES teachers top statewide teachers in their agreement. MES teachers agree that school leadership works to minimize disruptions for teachers, allowing teachers to focus on educating students. MES teachers agree at a level of 89.5 percent compared to 80.6 percent statewide.
The teachers’ opinions of school leadership all goes downhill from there.
The worst rate of agreement comes with the question “faculty members are recognized for their accomplishments.” An even 75 percent of elementary school teachers statewide agree while only 26.3 percent agree at MES.
Teachers evaluations are fair at my school: 82.5 percent agree statewide; 70.6 percent agree at MES. There is an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect in this school: 70.5 percent agree statewide; 45.0 agree at MES.
School leadership consistently supports teachers: 79 percent agree statewide; 60 percent at MES. Teachers feel comfortable raising issues and concerns that are important to them: statewide agreement is 66.5 percent; MES agreement is 47.4 percent.
School leadership makes a sustained effort to address teacher concerns about leadership issues: 73.9 percent agree statewide; 30 percent at MES. Leadership addresses concerns about new teacher support: 75.2 statewide; 25 percent at MES; and leadership addresses concerns about managing student conduct: 77.9 percent statewide; 60 percent agreement at MES.
Overall, the school leadership in my school is effective: 75.4 percent of elementary school teachers statewide agreed; it was 52.4 percent at MES.
Teachers at Meeker Elementary School also scored the school lower in many aspects of professional development than their counterparts across the state.
Professional development is differentiated to meet the needs of individual teachers. Agreement was 64.7 percent statewide, 0.0 (zero) at MES. Professional learning opportunities are aligned with the school’s improvement plan: 86.3 percent agree statewide; 21.4 percent agree at MES.
Sufficient resources are available for professional development in my school: 70.1 percent agree statewide; 36.8 percent at MES. Follow-up is provided from professional development in this school: statewide agreement is 60.9 percent; 16.7 percent at MES.
And in the last category, instructional practices and support, there are mixed results, but most are down, with MES teachers scoring above state average approval on only three of the 12 questions.
The curriculum taught in this school is aligned with Common Core Standards: 90 percent agree at MES while only 85.7 agree statewide.
Toward the negative is the statement, “Teachers are assigned classes that maximize their likelihood of success with students:” 62.8 percent agree statewide; 23.5 percent agree at MES. Teachers share their students’ accomplishments with the school community: 83.7 percent agree statewide; 63.2 percent agree at MES, much lower than at Meeker High School and Barone Middle School.
Teachers have autonomy to make decisions about instructional delivery (pacing, materials and pedagogy): 71.3 percent of the elementary school teachers agree statewide while 60 percent of the teachers at MES agree, also considerably lower than at Meeker’s high school or middle school.