BY JEFF JAMES
On June 1, the results from the latest North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey (NCTWCS) were released. The survey began as part of the North Carolina Governor’s Teacher Working Conditions Initiative, created through a process of research and review by the North Carolina Professional Teaching Standards Commission (NCPTSC) and with the support of the North Carolina State Board of Education in 1999.
The goal of this biennial survey is to capture anonymously the current teaching conditions in schools and the impact those conditions have on a teacher’s career. Although the survey has shifted to an online platform, the statewide survey provides valuable information to the school, district, and state levels.
Who can take the survey?
♦ All teachers and licensed school-based educators (teachers, administrators, media coordinators, counselors, etc.) in the state.
♦ Part-time, licensed school-based educators may also participate.
What domains are included in the survey?
The survey includes 12 sections, including
♦ Facilities and Resources;
♦ Community Support and Involvement;
♦ Managing Student Conduct;
♦ Teacher Leadership;
♦ School Leadership;
♦ Professional Learning Opportunities;
♦ Instructional Practices and Supports;
♦ Safety; and
♦ New Teacher Supports
How did Iredell-Statesville Schools stack up against the state and historical trends?
A total of 91.6% of teachers in Iredell-Statesville Schools participated in the survey, with 19 schools having a 100% participation rate. The district scored above the regional average in every area of the NCTWCS and above the state averages in seven out of 10 primary areas. Teachers (84.8%) indicated that their school is a great place to work and learn and 85% of teachers indicated they intend to continue working in the district next year. Some 78.21 percent of teachers also indicated that they had access to a broad range of support personnel. The district ranked well above the state average when it came to allowing teachers a large role in selecting instructional materials (11% over the state average), grading and assessment (13% over the state average), devising teaching techniques (6% over the state average), and school improvement planning (4% over the state average).
The vast majority of administrators in I-SS (94.83%) feel that the district has a clearly defined vision for all schools and 86.1% of administrators indicated that the central office provides support when needed.
In addition, 89.3% of I-SS teachers believe that they are empowered to try new things to improve instruction. I-SS teachers rated our schools more favorably than state averages when assessing the impact of the pandemic on student learning. This includes re-teaching standards, assessing social and emotional needs, and comparing student progress to pre-pandemic.
Overall, teachers remain satisfied with facilities, school leadership, and teacher leadership with each of these areas of the survey remaining over 70%. The safety of our schools also received favorable scores of 93% or higher in every category as teachers indicated they feel very comfortable that their schools have plans in place for tornadoes, fires, lockdowns, active shooters, etc.
While we have much to celebrate, Iredell-Statesville Schools has some areas to focus on for improvement. Some teachers (19%) indicated that they spend more than 10 hours per week outside of working hours planning for the coming week and 25% of teachers indicated that they spend 5-10 hours planning.
Beginning teachers in I-SS rated the district below state averages in most areas of the NCTWCS that measure new teacher support. Throughout the district, region, and state, teachers were less satisfied with the way time is spent when compared to previous years. The percentage of teachers who felt they have appropriate time to plan with their colleagues dropped from 82.27% in 2020 to 65.1%. The survey also revealed that teachers have concerns with managing student conduct.
Since 2018, the percentage of teachers who feel that the NCTWCS is used for school improvement has continued to decline with 70% in 2018, 66.94% in 2020, and 59.27% in 2022.
The rest of the story is much more profound. An alarming number (7,752) of teachers statewide have indicated that they intended to leave the teaching profession following the 2021-2022 school year. This would equate to 7.2% of the workforce. The impact of this movement would look like every teacher in Iredell-Statesville, Catawba, Newton-Conover, Hickory City, Lincoln, Alexander, Wilkes, Yadkin, Davie, Rowan-Salisbury, and Davidson leaving the profession. This would leave 112,546 students without a teacher.
This type of mass exodus, with the number of college students earning education degrees exponentially declining, has created the perfect storm. This storm is not just a state issue, but a nationwide crisis. The Economic Policy Institute (EPI) projects there will be a demand for approximately 300,000 new teachers nationwide and a supply of just over 100,000 by 2024.
School administrators will now analyze their school data with their staff to make data-informed decisions. This may include the development of a plan to maintain, improve, or simply correct areas of concern. District administration will continue to evaluate processes, policies, and support to address the areas of improvement as well as advocate for more support from the state.
To read more about the North Carolina Teacher Working Conditions Survey and to see more of the district or school results, please visit www.nctwcs.org. In addition, you can read more from the EdWeek Research Center for Merrimack College Teacher Survey about trends in teaching that will feed this unfortunate crisis if our state and nation do not weigh in.
Dr. Jeff James is superintendent of Iredell-Statesville Schools.