The results are in.
A survey of school superintendents from around the state is now available. It remains to be seen what conclusions our NC policymakers will draw from these statistics.
Of the most significant issues facing our schools today, the respondents to the survey overwhelming agreed that teacher pay, insufficient school funding and teacher morale were at the top of the list of issues facing NC schools.
Superintendents’ Attitudes toward Public Education in North Carolina
The report was co-authored by Jim Watson, Claudia Flowers, James Lyons, Ann McColl, Bob Algozzine at UNC Charlotte. They sent surveys to all of NC’s 115 school superintendents, and replies received from 67, representing all regions of the state.
Regarding pay for performance:
None of the respondents reporting believing this method of increasing pay would help education.
Some other points of interest are:
Elementary schools should allow teachers and administrators to
be armed. Not Needed 100 May Be Needed 0 Very Much Needed 0
Generally speaking, the impact of increasing the number of charter schools will... hurt school system
93 have no effect 7 help school system 0
Generally speaking, the impact of tuition support for students to attend private schools will…
hurt school system 99 have no effect 1 help school system 0
The Common Core State Standards (CCSSO) will improve education in North Carolina
Strongly Disagree 0 Disagree 3 Undecided 15 Agree 51 Strongly Agree 31
How important is it for you to have local control of the school calendar?
Not Very Important 0 Somewhat Important 9 Very Important 91
The professors included a discussion of their results. (emphasis below is mine)
In general, the superintendents do not believe that some of the recent statutes, policies, and educational initiatives recently approved by state policy makers will serve to improve schools and student learning. Conversely, their responses indicate that they believe that some of them will serve to hurt the public schools (for example, increasing the number of charter schools, providing vouchers for parents to send their children to private schools, implementing a pay for performance system that arbitrarily limits the number of teachers rewarded to 25%).
Nationally, balancing budgets and the lack of financial support continues to be the biggest problem facing public schools (Gallup, 2013b; Kappan, 2013; Phi Delta Kappa, 2014). North Carolina superintendents also reported that lack of funds was a significant challenge for their districts. In addition, they indicated that teacher morale, teacher pay, and unfunded state mandates were the highest priorities that face the state.
Results from this study somewhat support the use of students standardized test scores to evaluate teacher, which is different from the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll results, which stated that these test scores should not be used to evaluate teachers. Superintendents had varied views of no right to a hearing for teachers who are recommended for non-renewal and automatic grounds for dismissal for teachers who are rated less than proficient, although more disagreed than agreed with these recent legislative changes.
All superintendents agree that armed security guards or armed teachers and administrators are not needed to ensure school safety, which is consistent with the 2013 PDK/Gallup poll viewpoint of not allowing armed school personnel. Superintendents endorsed using screening procedures in all schools and police resource officers.
In NC, superintendents overwhelmingly believe that increasing the number of charter schools would hurt their school system. Given that most Americans believe charter schools offer a better education than tradition public schools, future enrollment increases in charter school would have a negative effect on public schools. Superintendents also view tuition support for students attending private school as hurting their school system. There was support for allowing opportunities for students to earn high school credits for online learning.
Few NC superintendents reported that high-stakes testing improved education and the cost of testing is not worth the expense, which is consistent with the Kappan survey that found that the significant increase in testing in the past decade has either hurt or made no difference in improving schools (Kappan, 2013).
In a national PDK/Gallup poll, more than half of the superintendents surveyed indicated that they believe “...the common core standards will improve the quality of education in their community,” but “three in 10 (30%) believe that [the standards] will have no effect” (Gallup, 2013b, p. 2). Given the initial and growing equivocation on the value of Common Core State Standards (cf. Gardner & Powell, 2014; Loveless, 2014), it was surprising that almost all the superintendents thought the new standards would improve education in NC. Another important issue that all NC superintendents agreed upon was the need for local control of the school calendar.
In this study, NC superintendents’ opinions about local, state, and national education issues were examined. We reasoned that their responses would provide a benchmark for how school leaders in our state perceive their schools and select factors influencing them. As documented in similar surveys (e.g., PDK/Gallup poll), lack of financial support was a core concern and an issue needing the attention of policy makers. If policy makers are perceived to be doing things that are demoralizing teachers while local districts are trying to improve teacher morale and reduce teacher turnover, educational progress may be stifled. If state and local districts are working at cross purposes vis-a-vis the primary education labor force-classroom teachers, educational progress will be restrained.