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Bertie schools to use teacher survey results for strategic planning

WINDSOR—The North Carolina State Board of Education made the results of the North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey public during its meeting in Raleigh on June 6, and educators in Bertie County Schools were praised for their assessment.

The survey is administered every other year by the Governor and the State Superintendent partnering with the New Teacher Center and NC Association of Educators. It’s used to gauge school culture and improve recruitment and retention of teachers in North Carolina.

Nearly 110,000 educators across the state shared their opinions in this year’s survey, setting a record response rate of 91 percent for the tally which was first given in 2002.

The results of the survey showed that 87 percent of educators statewide agreed with the statement, “Overall, my school is a good place to work and learn.”

Bertie County Schools (BCS) was recently presented with a check for $1,000 by the Department of Public Instruction for being the first district in the state to have 100 percent participation in the survey, and BCS made that mark within the first three days the survey was available online.

“We feel that this strong participation is the result of our teachers wanting to let their voices be heard,” said Bertie Superintendent Dr. Catherine Edmonds. “And we will be using the results from this survey during our strategic planning for the upcoming school year.”

The survey detailed how teachers feel about a variety of topics, including, but not limited to: the use of time in the school, facilities and resources, community support and involvement, managing student conduct, teacher and school leadership, professional development, and instructional practices and support.

Edmonds said that according to the results, at almost every school in Bertie County, teachers feel that class sizes are not reasonable such that teachers have the time available to meet the needs of all students. The exceptions were Colerain Elementary School and West Bertie Elementary. Teachers at Aulander Elementary School feel that this overcrowding in the classroom is a dire problem at their school, with only slightly over nine percent agreeing that class sizes at AES are adequate.

“Most teachers in our schools feel that their school does not encourage parent involvement, nor do they receive the support from parents/guardians, community members, and the communities at large which they serve,” Edmonds said. “The numbers are also low where teachers agree that parents and guardians are influential decision makers in the schools.”

For Bertie County, the survey also said there is a chasm between the numbers of teachers who agree that students understand what their schools’ conduct expectations are versus the numbers of teachers who agree that students actually follow the rules of conduct. At Aulander, 90 percent of teachers believe students understand, while almost 73 percent believe that the students follow the rules. At West Bertie, the numbers are 95 percent and 63 percent, respectively. Numbers for the high school and the early college are considerably lower in both respects.

More than half (65 percent) of the teachers in the district feel leadership makes a sustained effort to address teacher concerns about managing student conduct. Teachers at some schools indicated that they feel pretty good, in general, about school leadership, such as Bertie Middle and Colerain Elementary. Other schools seem to feel that the facilities and the resources are the best things they have going for them.

On the positive side, all Bertie County Schools reported an increase in using data to drive instruction, and many schools feel that teachers and administrators have a shared vision.

Generally, the trend over the last three times the survey was administered, dating back to 2014, shows the overarching problems seem to be class size and community involvement.

Teachers in the county who feel that their school is a safe environment fell from 86.5 percent in 2016 to almost 75 percent in 2018.

“Over the last six years, roughly three-fourths of our teachers feel consistently that, overall, their schools are good places to work and learn,” Edmonds added. “We have taken an innovative approach to engaging the families and communities in our area through the Community Listening Tour. We have also engaged students, and this survey is an opportunity for us to hear from our teachers and for them to let us know what it is like to work in their schools.”

Edmonds said the Listening Tours are a unique way to engage the community and find out how they can support Bertie County Schools and how the school system can support them.

“Students have been candid and honest in their input and the feedback and insights gained from this survey will help us to better address our teacher concerns,” the superintendent added. “Now, we want our teachers to know that we are listening. Based upon the results of this survey we know that we have some work to do, and the results confirm that some things we are working on in the district in our strategic planning are the right things to be working on.”