TeLL it like it is

Is your school a good place to teach and learn? Teachers and administrators in Massachusetts will have a chance to offer their views on this subject through a confidential online survey that will be available from Feb. 11 to March 7. The MTA and the NEA are leading sponsors of this effort.

"We are very excited to be part of this project," said MTA President Anne Wass. "Ten years ago, thousands of members responded to our 'Ask a Teacher' survey. Member responses were at the heart of the recommendations in our publication The Teachers' Blueprint for Educational Excellence. We have used that report often in advocating for the educators’ point of view, and we intend to do the same with these survey results."

TeLLS Survey

Is your school a good place to teach and learn? Tell is like it is by responding to a Teaching, Learning and Leading Survey (TeLLS), which will be available online between Feb. 11 and March 8, 2008. The MTA and NEA are leading sponsors of this effort.

MTA's TeLLs Hotline: 617-878-8232. 

The Teaching, Learning and Leading Survey -- TeLLS -- provides a unique opportunity to gather information about teaching and learning conditions in every school in the Commonwealth. The MTA Board voted to endorse the effort in March. In October, the Legislature approved Gov. Deval Patrick's request for funding for the survey to supplement funds provided by the sponsoring organizations.

"As the Commonwealth embarks on the next chapter in education improvement, we must have the voice of educators in the conversation," Patrick said. "This survey is a unique and important opportunity to help shape education policy and practice with the perspective of the very teachers and administrators most involved in making classrooms succeed."

In the 20-minute anonymous survey, which will be administered by the New Teacher Center in California, educators will answer a series of questions related to student achievement and teacher retention. TeLLS will cover the adequacy of facilities and resources, time, empowerment, school leadership and professional development.

"The goal of TeLLS is to support sound educational policies and practices at the local and state levels based on the views of practitioners, most of whom are our members," said Kathie Skinner, director of MTA's Center for Education Policy and Practice, which is spearheading the survey effort on behalf of the association.

"We strongly urge all of our members to answer these survey questions so that the teachers' voices are heard during policy debates."

All licensed educators, as well as teachers working on waivers, will be receiving unique codes that are identified by school, but not by individual. In fact, participants will be able to swap codes within schools and respond to the survey from any computer, since results are only tabulated by school, not by individual.

The results of the survey will be used by the governor and other policymakers to help guide statewide educational initiatives. In addition, the results will be used to improve conditions at the school and district levels, as has been done in other states where surveys have been given.

The MTA will also help local associations use the results to advocate for both local and statewide school reforms that members support.

Other TeLLS sponsors are American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, The Boston Foundation, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees, the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, the Massachusetts Elementary School Principals Association, the Massachusetts Secondary School Administrators' Association, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation and the Rennie Center for Education Research and Policy.