News: Quick Takes

NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey looks for insight into teaching profession

(CJ File Photo By Kari Travis)
(CJ File Photo By Kari Travis)

The NC Teacher Working Conditions Survey gives educators the chance to be heard.

Every two years, the Department of Public Instruction conducts a comprehensive survey to learn more about teaching and learning conditions in the state’s public schools, including charter schools.

The N.C. Professional Teaching Standards Commission was first administered in 2002. The survey is an online, anonymous way for teachers to share their perspectives while also providing suggestions for improving school and classroom practices.

“Knowing how to support you starts with listening to you,” State Superintendent Mark Johnson told teachers in a video. “The reason we conduct these surveys is to know what you think.”

The survey asks teachers about professional development, teaching and learning conditions, community engagement and support, and use of time.

In 2016, the NC TWCS showed, 71 percent of teachers said they were able to focus on teaching with minimal interruptions. Seventy-two percent said they have sufficient instructional time to meet the needs of all their students; 66 percent said efforts were made to minimize the amount of required routine paperwork.

Teachers said community engagement was high in 2016, with 90 percent agreeing their school maintains a clear, two-way communication with the community. In a similar vein, 90 percent also said their school does a good job of encouraging parent or guardian involvement.

More than 80 percent of teachers said they would continue teaching at their school, compared to 5 percent who said they would leave the education profession. Five percent said they would continue teaching in their district but would leave their school, and 3 percent said they would leave the district but still teach in the state.

Terry Stoops, vice president of research and director of education studies at the John Locke Foundation, said the survey provides good insight into what teachers think they need from their schools and community.

“We have an astonishing sample size and a tremendous amount of information from the district and school level,” Stoops said. “Yet the use of that information seems very isolated and limited.”

Teachers have until March 31 to complete the survey. Results from the survey will be available online about five weeks after the end of March, with specific data available for schools that reach a 40 percent teacher response rate.