By Jennifer Wohlleb
With more than 80 percent of the state’s teachers participating in the TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning) Kentucky survey, school districts now have a wealth of information at their fingertips. So what do they do with it?
“The TELL Survey data is enormous,” said Henry County Superintendent Tim Abrams. “I wanted to use that data to see how we could make improvements in the district.”
To help with that, Henry County became one of the first school districts to go through training KSBA helped to develop at the request of the New Teacher Center. The training is for school board-superintendent teams, as well as a joint training for those teams and their school councils, to analyze and incorporate the TELL data in their districts.
“We wanted to develop a training that would help school board members look at the data from a school board perspective,” said Jean Crowley, KSBA board team development specialist, who worked with the New Teacher Center.
Photo: Henry County Board of Education members Miranda Clubb, Donnie Tipton and Tony Whaley answer questions about their district’s TELL Survey results during a KSBA-led training session. KSBA has partnered with the New Teacher Center to offer training to school boards and school councils on how to use the TELL data to improve their schools.
The training focuses on the five leadership roles of the school board, as identified by the Lighthouse Project on effective school boards:
• Setting clear expectations
• Creating the conditions for success
• Holding the system accountable
• Creating the public will to succeed
• Learning as a board team
“The training is designed for school board/superintendent teams to use the data as they focus on their roles and responsibilities and develop strategies to make improvements in their districts,” said Crowley, who is also Chairman of the Danville Board of Education.
The training takes the board team through some of its survey results, and compares the district results with state results and other districts. The training helps the board develop a process for reviewing the remaining results in the survey.
The survey is composed of eight areas: time, facilities and resources, community support and involvement, managing student conduct, teacher leadership, school leadership, professional development and instructional practices and support.
“Board members need to look at these areas and ask what they as a school board can do to help make improvements,” Crowley said. “How can we use these results in our district improvement planning process for continual improvement?”
Abrams said he found the session useful, although his district altered the board team training by including the district’s administrative team.
“With some of the survey data that was very complimentary of the district, it gave the board a chance to share with the principals and tell them how much they appreciate the work they’ve done in those areas,” he said. “But in areas where we’re not as high as we would like to be, it gave the board team and the administrative team the unique opportunity to work together. I think it was a very powerful meeting, a lot of good conversations.”
Board Vice Chairman Harold Bratton agreed.
“Whether it’s teachers or parents, it’s always good to know what people think about your organization,” he said. “The main thing I took from the training was a better understanding about the survey and how it was done. We were able to sit down and really go through it and have a better understanding of what information is there.”
Crowley said both the board/superintendent team and board/school council trainings offer just a taste of the survey.
“Our training sessions look at one statement in each of the eight areas of the educators’ survey, but there can actually be six-12 statements in each area,” she said. “This is just the beginning of looking at data. It is not meant to encompass all of it; you could spend days looking at the data. We’re providing board members with a process for reviewing the data, and starting with a very small piece of it.”
Crowley said the ultimate goal is to use the TELL survey results along with student achievement data and other sources of school and district data to make improvements.
“When the TELL survey is done again in two years, we will have comparison data within the district to show improvement, and see what strategies have made an impact on teaching conditions” she said.
Abrams said the training is just the start of what will be an ongoing conversation in his district.
“I will bring up these things at our regular, monthly board meetings. We’re not going to let it go away,” he said. “We want this to stay on our radar and make sure working conditions for the staff are as good as they can be.”
– Contact Jean Crowley at email@example.com more information about training opportunities in your district. To view the board team training materials, go to the New Teacher Center.