Local teachers report on job satisfaction, district operations

Brandon Paykamian • Mar 11, 2019 at 5:13 PM

When it comes to the direction of local education, much of the most valuable input comes from teachers and staff working in the schools.

The Tennessee Education Research Alliance, a partnership between Vanderbilt University and the Tennessee Department of Education, released the 2019 Tennessee Educator Survey to public school staff across the state last week.

Now in its eighth year, the survey says it aims to develop a “deeper understanding of the educator’s perspective to guide strategies and goals at the state, district and local school levels.” The survey will be open until April 19 and will touch on teacher evaluations, school climate, professional learning and more. It will also allow educators to provide feedback on what they think needs to be improved or continued in their schools and districts.

Last year, the survey had a 58 percent participation rate across the state. Nearly 80 percent of teachers and staff reported that they “like the way things are run” at their schools. Close to 85 percent reported being “generally satisfied with being a teacher” in their schools.

Johnson City Schools had a 47 percent participation rate, with 80 percent reporting approval of the way the schools were run and more than 90 percent reporting satisfaction with their jobs.

In Washington County Schools, 63 percent of educators participated in the county district, and a little over 75 percent reported being satisfied with the way the schools were run. About 82 percent of teachers reported being satisfied with their jobs.

Washington County Schools Director Bill Flanary said the educator survey is a useful evaluation tool for local school officials, which they use to guide staff development.

“The supervisory staff uses the results to inform much of the work they do, including designing teacher in-service for our entire professional staff. I make the information available to our school board members as soon as it becomes available,” he said Monday. 

“There are a lot of upsides to the survey. It's online and administered by a third party. The survey itself is independently validated. Perhaps most importantly, we get a ton of useful data at zero cost to the local school system budget.”

Erin O’Hara, executive director of the Tennessee Education Research Alliance, said she hopes to see more educator participation this year and encouraged educators across the state to “utilize this opportunity to make their voices heard.”

“The Educator Survey is a valuable tool that helps researchers and policymakers evaluate what policies are working and what changes could be made in Tennessee’s education system,” she said in a press release last week.

Educators who participate are eligible to win grants for their school or classroom, and this year’s survey results will be shared in May with districts and schools that meet or exceed a 45 percent response rate.

Results will be released publicly via the Tennessee Educator Survey website in August at educatorsurvey.tnk12.gov, where more information on the survey can be found.