• Jessamine County has used results from prior working conditions surveys for such things as improving professional development and school culture.
  • A steering committee that includes educators has worked to develop a survey that is more relevant, more up to date and easier for teachers to complete.

By Mike Marsee

How can you measure the impact of a survey in which teachers report on their working conditions?

In Jessamine County, it can be measured in more relevant professional development, in improved school culture and even in a higher teacher retention rate.

Across Kentucky, working conditions surveys have empowered teachers, whose feedback has driven change that has led to improvement in their schools.

Impact Kentucky logoThe next working conditions survey, Impact Kentucky, launches in January. Certified staff members in schools across Kentucky will be asked to take the survey between Jan. 13 and Feb. 21 to provide their schools with critical data that guides implementation of policies and practices that maximize teacher effectiveness.

“There are schools that actually use this data to make changes,” said Cathy White, a program consultant in the Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Office of Educator Licensure and Effectiveness.

Impact Kentucky replaces the TELL Kentucky survey, which was administered by KDE and the New Teacher Center four times between 2011 and 2017. The New Teacher Center no longer works in that area, so a new partner, Panorama Education, was selected and the survey was rebranded.

There are changes both in the survey and in the way it will be administered, but its purpose and its value remain the same.

The Jessamine County schools have found tremendous value in the results of past surveys. Superintendent Matt Moore said one change that has resulted from analysis of survey results is an improvement in the quality of professional development.

“In one survey, two of our schools identified professional development that had been offered in years past wasn’t as tied to what teachers felt like they needed to do their jobs,” Moore said. “We got more feedback from teachers, and we implemented districtwide training to meet those needs. Principals also began implementing specific training for their entire staff, so now one teacher may not be getting the same thing as another teacher. It really has shaped the professional learning opportunities that we have for individuals.”

Val Gallutia, Jessamine County’s deputy superintendent and chief of staff, said individual schools also used survey data to improve school culture.

“It was an opportunity to build a culture of professionalism, of collegiality,” Gallutia said.

Moore said administrators are following up with staff members to see whether they are noticing the changes the district is implementing based on survey results.

“A lot of those questions are very similar to the TELL data because that’s where that originated,” he said.

Gallutia said one indicator of the effect of changes implemented as a result of past surveys is the district’s retention rate, particularly for certified staff.

“At this point, our retention data has held steady, even at a difficult time,” he said. “That’s a good example of using the retention data to make sure we’re meeting the needs of the staff.”

Impact Kentucky will look different from past working conditions surveys, although its goal is the same. A steering committee that includes teachers, principals, superintendents and members of education groups from across the state has worked to develop a survey that is more relevant, more up to date and easier for teachers to complete.

“The committee really championed the idea of changing the survey and not just the title, as they felt the TELL survey had become dated and was too long to take at 180 questions,” said Rob Akers, a KDE associate commissioner in the Office of Educator Licensure and Effectiveness. “The new survey has been reduced by about two-thirds and should be much less of a time commitment to complete.”

Akers said the items that are being assessed came directly from recommendations made by teachers and principals.

“This survey has been tailored to address the themes and concerns raised by the steering committee and contains data that is highly actionable at the school level,” he said.