CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Nearly 8,000 West Virginia teachers say their school is a safe, good place to work and learn. The response was one that nearly half of all West Virginia educators made as part of West Virginia’s Vision for Improving Teaching and Learning (WV VITAL) project.
The anonymous, online survey of teachers and principals addressed the conditions and climates of schools as they impact and support effective leadership, encourage teacher retention and promote student learning needed for the 21st century. Preliminary results were presented to the state Board of Education at its monthly meeting on Tuesday.
“We are fortunate to have gained the perspective from those whose perceptions matter most -- practicing educators,” said state Board of Education member Lowell Johnson, who is heading up the project. “This data will prove to be invaluable as we move forward with our 21st Century Learning initiative.”
Teachers were asked earlier this year about time issues, facilities and resources, decision making, leadership, professional development and mentoring. Thirty-six of 55 county school districts and 400 schools had at least a 40 percent participation rate, with some counties and schools reaching 100 percent.
Nearly 83 percent of teachers said adequate support from school leadership influenced their decisions to continue teaching at their school. Among teachers who said they wanted to stay at their current school, nearly 70 percent said it was because school leaders were concerned about professional development.
Both teachers and principals had concerns about the amount of time available to teachers to plan and collaborate with colleagues. Only four out of 10 educators said they have sufficient non-instructional time that could be used for planning. About nine of 10 teachers said they received three hours or less a week that could be used for collaboration, while nearly one in four said they receive no collaboration time at all.
The survey also showed that new teachers believe they are getting little help from mentors. While 70 percent of 1,100 new teachers said they had been formally assigned a mentor, up to half of them report never interacting with their mentors when it comes to planning instruction.
“The issues with mentors really bother me,” said board President Delores W. Cook. “We must make sure novice educators receive the support they need not only to survive, but to thrive.”
The West Virginia Board of Education and 15 members of its Teaching and Learning Conditions Survey Stakeholders Group worked with the New Teacher Center at the University of California at Santa Cruz to conduct the survey.
WV VITAL stakeholders include the 21st Century Jobs Council; West Virginia-American Federation of Teachers; Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston schools; Edvantia; Office of the Secretary of Education and the Arts; Regional Education Service Agencies; West Virginia Association of Elementary and Middle School Principals; West Virginia Association of School Administrators; West Virginia Association of Secondary School Principals; West Virginia Board of Education; West Virginia Department of Education; West Virginia Education Association; West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities; West Virginia Professional Educators; and West Virginia School Boards Association.
For more information, contact Karen Larry, executive assistant to the state superintendent at (304) 558-2118, or the Office of Communications at (304) 558-2699. Preliminary results can be viewed at http://www.westvirginiavital.org . A final report will be completed by the end of the year.