Education Week/Gallup Poll: How superintendents view their jobs

10 Jul

Moi wrote about school superintendents in Life expectancy of a superintendent: A lot of bullets and little glory:
Just about anyone in education has a tough job these days, from the building staff to the superintendent. There is pressure to perform in an environment of declining resources. Lately, the job of superintendent of large urban school districts has been characterized by turnover. Thomas E. Glass in The History of the Urban Superintendent writes:

The twenty-first century finds one-third of America’s public school children attending one of ten large urban (large-city) school districts. By 2020 approximately one-half of public school enrollment will be clustered in twenty districts. The educational stewardship of a majority of the nations youth rests uncomfortably on the shoulders of a very few large-city school superintendents. Their success and the success of their districts may very well determine the future of American democracy.
Urban districts are typically considered to be those located in the inner core of metropolitan areas having enrollments of more than 25,000 students. The research and literature about large-city school districts portray conditions of poverty, chronic academic underachievement, dropouts, crime, unstable school boards, reform policy churn, and high superintendent turnover.
The typical tenure of a superintendent in the largest large-city districts is two to three years. This brief tenure makes it unlikely a superintendent can develop and implement reform programs that can result in higher academic achievement–let alone re-build crumbling schools buildings, secure private sector assistance, and build a working relationship with the city’s political structure.
The large-city superintendency is a position defined by high expectations, intense stress, inadequate resources, and often a highly unstable politicized board of education.
Read more: Superintendent of Large-City School Systems – History of the Urban Superintendent, The Profession, School Boards,
Characteristics of the Large-City Superintendent

See, District Administration’s article, Superintendent Staying Power
The editors of Education Week have released the results of a survey about superintendent’s views in the article, Gallup-EdWeek Poll: What Superintendents Really Think:

While many of the nation’s superintendents are optimistic about the potential of the common-core standards and new technology to improve what goes on in classrooms, a healthy percentage are also skeptical about such developments, according to results from the first Gallup-Education Week Superintendents Panel survey.
The Washington-based Gallup organization teamed up with Education Week last year to develop what is envisioned as a four-times-a-year survey.

For this inaugural round, the Gallup pollsters conducted online surveys of more than 12,000 district superintendents around the country between March and April of this year. The 2,586 superintendents who responded are not a nationally representative mix; most lead districts serving between 200 and 500 students. (See Key Findings or Download Entire Survey)
The results show that more than half the respondents—58 percent—believe that the new Common Core State Standards adopted by most states will improve the quality of education in their communities; 75 percent say the shared standards will provide more consistency in educational quality from district to district and state to state.
But 30 percent predict the standards will have no effect on schooling.
And, though the standards were not developed through a federal initiative, many district leaders say more help is needed from the federal government to help with their implementation. Just 2 percent strongly agree that the federal level of support has been adequate.
In the area of technology, the superintendents are slightly more lukewarm. More than four in 10 (44 percent) say the use of technology in the classroom increases student engagement. Fewer—33 percent—strongly agree that “a good teacher who uses advanced technology to teach creates a better student learning environment than a good teacher who does not use advanced technology to teach.”
The superintendents also flag principals’ professional development as a problem area. Just 17 percent agree that their districts have effective, ongoing professional-development programs for principals.
In the full report, the superintendents weigh in on their districts’ teacher-evaluation practices, college-admissions testing, their students’ readiness for college and work, and the challenges their districts face in the coming school year.
The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 1.9 percentage points, according to Gallup….

See, Infograph:

District Superintendents Split on Common Core

School Principals have been surveyed as well.

Moi posted in Ya think? Met Life Teacher survey reports principals are very dissatisfied:
Liana Heiten reports in the Education Week article, Survey Finds Rising Job Frustration Among Principals:

The 29th annual MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, based on telephone interviews with 1,000 K-12 public school teachers and 500 principals, tells a story of enduring budget problems in schools and declining morale among both teachers and school leaders. (The MetLife Foundation provides funding to Education Week Teacher to support its capacity to engage teachers interactively in professional community.)
According to the survey, conducted for MetLife Inc. by Harris Interactive, the majority of principals say school leadership responsibilities have changed significantly over the last five years. Nearly half of principals surveyed indicated that they “feel under great stress several days a week.” And job satisfaction among principals has decreased notably, from 68 percent indicating they were “very satisfied” in 2008 to 59 percent saying so in this year’s survey.
While weighted to key demographic variables to reflect a national sample, the survey does not have an estimated sampling error.
When asked about the main obstacles they face, 83 percent of school leaders rate “addressing individual student needs” as “challenging” or “very challenging.” Seventy-eight percent rate managing the budget and resources as challenging or very challenging—an unsurprising figure given that more than half of principals also report their school’s budget decreased in the last year, and 35 percent say it remained flat.
“I’ve always said the worst time to be a principal is during a tight budget time, and this survey holds that up,” Mel Riddile, associate director of high school services for the National Association of Secondary School Principals, said during a MetLife-hosted webinar for reporters on Feb. 20.
Principals were also likely to point to parent engagement and implementing the Common Core State Standards as significant challenges. Evaluating teacher effectiveness ranked lower on the list, with 53 percent of principals indicating it is a challenge.
Lack of Control
The survey finds that many principals view key challenges facing their schools as being outside of their control. For example, only 22 percent of principals say they have “a great deal of control in making decisions about finances.”
Steven Tozer, coordinator of the urban education leadership program at the University of Illinois at Chicago, said in an interview that, given that “as much as 80 percent of a [district] budget is dedicated to personnel, there are precious little dollars known as discretionary. I’m actually surprised that figure is as high as it is.”
According the MetLife Survey, only 43 percent of principals say they have control when it comes to removing teachers, while 42 percent say they have control over curriculum and instruction. More than three-fourths of principals, however, do acknowledge having control over teacher hiring and schedules.
Even as they report a lack of control over key factors, principals report feeling a great sense of responsibility for day-to-day goings on in their buildings: Nine in 10 principals indicate that “the principal should be held accountable for everything that happens to the children in his or her school.”


MetLife Survey of the American Teacher Overview
The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher, conducted annually since 1984 by Harris Interactive, shares the voices of teachers and others close to the classroom with educators, policy makers and the public. The Survey findings also inform MetLife Foundation’s support for education.
New Survey
The MetLife Survey of the American Teacher: Challenges for School Leadership examines the views of teachers and principals on the responsibilities and challenges facing school leaders, including the changing roles of principals and teachers, budget and resources, professional satisfaction, and implementation of the Common Core State Standards for college and career readiness (2012).
Previous Surveys
The entire MetLife Survey of the American Teacher series is now available online at the ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) website: ERIC document (ED)
Here are the major findings of the 2013 survey:
Strong leadership is essential for struggling schools. Strong leadership requires not only accountability, but authority.

Study: Superintendents leave jobs in large school districts within three years
Are rules which limit choice hampering principal effectiveness?

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