The Classroom Teacher, summer 2014

In spring 2014, thanks to a provision that TCTA worked diligently to include in a 2013 state law, the commissioner of education was required for the first time to administer an anonymous, online teacher working conditions survey.

The TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Texas survey, conducted April 7-June 6, gave Texas educators a formal opportunity to answer questions about the teaching and learning conditions in their schools.

The survey is the first statewide effort to gather information on teacher working conditions, which research has shown significantly impact teacher satisfaction and retention, as well as student performance.

Unfortunately, due to resistance by some superintendents and lack of clarity about TEA’s expectation that principals distribute codes needed to take the survey to all teachers, counselors and other school-based professional staff, many educators did not receive access codes. And despite a collaborative campaign by TCTA and other organizations to spread the facts about the survey, just under 83,000 educators participated.

The participation rate is important because only results for campuses with at least a 50 percent response rate and a minimum of five educators responding were required to be made public. In the end, about 1,300 campuses had more than a 50-percent participation rate.

The results of the anonymous survey, which asked educators about a range of topics related to their working conditions — from facilities and resources to new teacher support — were expected to be released in mid-July 2014, but due to internal changes at TEA, they have been delayed. Read your TCTA eUpdate or visit tcta.org for updates on the release of the results.

When they are shared, districts and campuses must use the survey results to inform district- or campus-level improvement plans and to enhance the district and campus learning environments. The commissioner must use the survey results to develop, review and revise TEA professional development offerings, agency initiatives aimed at teacher retention, and standards for principals and superintendents.

The law requires that the survey be administered at least biennially, so educators will likely have another opportunity to participate in the next two years.

See also Teachers have chance to spark change with TELL Texas working conditions survey