It’s Learning Environment Survey season in the city’s schools. The Department of Education is aggressively reminding parents, teachers, and students to complete the surveys, which are meant to give schools information about how to improve, by the April 24 deadline.
The survey results also make up 10 percent of each school’s progress report grade, the letter grade that the DOE uses to evaluate schools. On her blog, teacher Miss Brave describes the survey-taking climate at her school, where administrators have picked up on the fact that positive survey results could contribute to a high progress report grade, which would exempt the school from facing a Quality Review for up to two years.
Miss Brave writes that administrators pressured teachers to respond favorably on the surveys:
Seriously, they did everything but stand over us with a #2 pencil and whisper “strongly agree!” in our ears. “Last year, some teachers claimed they didn’t have frequent contact with parents, but don’t forget, you send home a homework sheet every week!” “Last year, some teachers said we didn’t offer a wide enough variety of courses, but don’t forget, some of the third grade classes are getting a theater course!” Come on, a homework sheet? That counts as contact with parents? And that “theater course”? Is offered to an extremely limited number of classes, once a week for about six weeks. That’s supposed to count? It’s like we were scrabbling around for anything we could pat ourselves on the back for.
Miss Brave writes that she answered her survey truthfully, not out of integrity but because she is “fed up” by her school’s efforts to ace the city’s accountability metrics at the expense of educating students.