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MEEKER I Principal Jim Hanks and the staff at Barone Middle School have something to be proud of. The BMS Colorado Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Survey results this year show high scores and improvements in teacher beliefs through several categories of school evaluation.
Foremost, 100 percent of the teachers and administrators from BMS responding to the survey agree their school is a good place to work and learn. This compares to only 42 percent of respondents from Meeker High School (MHS), who believe their school is a good place to work and learn and 73 percent of Meeker Elementary School survey takers.
The Herald Times reported on the MHS TELL results April 30. Complete TELL Survey results are available online at www.tellcolorado.org/results.
Eight of the 11 BMS educators (73 percent) participated in the 2015 survey, compared to a statewide middle school participation rate of 59 percent.
Community support and involvement was one of the weakest areas for positive agreement. Only two teachers agreed that the community is supportive of the school—a probable reaction to the mill levy election loss last November.
This year’s 25 percent was a negative change from 89 percent who thought the community was supportive in 2013. Seven out of the eight responded that community members do not support teachers and therefore don’t contribute to student success.
Seven, however, believe the school does make clear, two-way communications with the community and six felt the school works directly with parents and guardians to improve the home educational environment. Five felt parents and guardians know what’s going on in the school.
Unanimous agreement at BMS, interestingly, came from questions about the management of student conduct.
One hundred percent of respondents agreed BMS students understand what’s expected of them, follow rules of conduct, faculty understand conduct policies and procedures, administration consistently enforces the rules and supports teacher disciplinary efforts, teachers consistently enforce the rules and the school provides a safe environment. Most of these scores showed at least a two-educator improvement over the 2013 results.
Teacher leadership was another strong area of BMS performance. All the respondents felt teachers at BMS, overall, have an appropriate level of influence on BMS decision-making. Again, this was a two-teacher improvement over 2013.
All the respondents agreed teachers are relied upon to make sound education decisions, the faculty takes steps and has an effective process in place to make problem-solving decisions, teachers trust each other and are effective leaders. The only exception was one respondent who disagreed that teachers were recognized as education experts and were provided opportunities to take on formal leadership.
School leadership was nearly as highly rated. All respondents agreed the school provides an atmosphere of trust and mutual respect, that rules for student conduct are consistently enforced, leadership adequately communicates with faculty, teachers feel comfort raising issues and concerns, teacher evaluations are fair and leadership works to minimize any disruptions to education.
There was further complete agreement on leadership consistently supporting teachers, holding teachers to high professional standards and facilitating the use of data to improve learning.
Deficits were small and limited to administration needing to do better in providing clear communications to students and parents, having a shared vision with teachers going forward, having the teacher evaluation process improve instruction strategies, and recognizing individual faculty for their accomplishments.
Scoring was not quite so high in the area of professional development (PD) for teachers. All respondents agreed PD opportunities were aligned with the school’s improvement plan, that teachers were encouraged to reflect on their teaching practices and that, overall, school leadership does participate with teachers in PD. Less than half of respondents, however, agreed there are sufficient resources allotted to PD, there is appropriate time allocated to PD, the PD opportunities are diverse enough to meet individual teacher needs, that PD deepens teacher content knowledge or that PD is evaluated and results communicated.
Two or three teachers didn’t feel ongoing PD opportunities adequately provide teachers with the necessary knowledge and skills, enhance teacher ability to implement instruction for diverse student needs, or that follow-up to PD was communicated.
Regarding instructional practices and support, all respondents agreed state and district data are used to improve learning, the curriculum taught meets the needs of the students, teachers are encouraged to try new approaches to improve learning and they have the autonomy to make decisions on instructional delivery.
Less than half, though, agreed state assessment data is available in time to impact instruction, instructional coaching or professional learning community experiences are adequate to make improvements in their instructional practices or, especially, that they even have the chance to work in professional learning communities to develop and align instruction practices. Seven out of eight felt class assignments maximize the likelihood of teacher success.
All but one teacher felt BMS has reasonable class sizes and teachers are protected from duties that would interfere with their essential role of educating students. However, only two out of the eight teachers responding felt they had the time needed to collaborate with their fellow teachers.
One hundred percent of the BMS teachers participating agreed they had sufficient access to communications technology and adequate support supplies. Only two of the eight, however, felt they had sufficient access to a broad range of professional personnel. Only two agreed the school environment was clean and well-maintained.
The TELL Survey was initiated by the Legislature in 2008. It is sent to school-based teachers and leadership statewide every other year to record their perceptions of the teaching and learning conditions in their schools. Participation by educators is voluntary and anonymous.
TELL is led by the Colorado Department of Education in partnership with the Colorado Association of School Boards, Colorado Association of School Executives, Colorado Education Association, Colorado League of Charter Schools and the Governor’s Office.