EdNewsParent Backgrounder: TELL Survey

Despite the carping you hear about over-crowded classrooms, endless budget cuts, and unruly students, teachers in Colorado appear to be pretty happy, according to a recent survey that polled more than a third of the state’s teachers.

The most recent report, “TELL Colorado: Creating Supportive School Environments to Enhance Teacher Effectiveness,” released in the spring of 2010, found that 75 percent of licensed Colorado teachers believe their schools are good places to work. Eighty percent say they want to remain in their current positions. Nine of 10 educators believe the faculties of their schools are committed to helping every student learn.

More than 23,000 teachers completed the first-ever survey of its kind, drafted in response to House Bill 08-1384, which called for the state to conduct a biennial survey of teaching and learning conditions. TELL stands for the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning. The survey was managed and implemented by a partnership led by CDE.

Among many findings:

  • Community engagement and student learning conditions “exert significant influence on absolute performance and growth on state assessments.”
  • Leadership is the most important condition affecting teachers’ willingness to continue teaching in their current school
  • Principals are positive about most aspects of the support they receive from districts
  • There are differences in perceptions of teaching and learning conditions across the state based on a variety of factors. Schools serving high poverty populations are less likely to note positive conditions, particularly in the area of community engagement and student learning conditions.
  • New teachers are not systematically supported. Almost one-fifth of new teachers report not being assigned a mentor.

And now for the recommendations:

  • Create systemic opportunities for teachers to grow professionally and participate in decisions that impact their schools and classrooms.
  • Ensure that every teacher is inducted into the profession and receives more frequent support to improve instruction.
  • Help school leadership establish positive teaching and learning conditions in every school.
  • Support schools in understanding and improving teaching conditions.
  • Support schools in engaging the broader community in efforts to understand and improve working conditions.
  • Use TELL and other mechanisms to collect educators’ views on teaching and learning conditions to inform local and state human capital decisions.