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School surveys show a small bump in support for chancellor

Teacher dissatisfaction with the city’s education leadership has waned, according to survey data released by the Department of Education on Friday.

The number of teachers who say they are dissatisfied with the schools chancellor dropped from 57 percent to 43 percent, though a growing share said they didn’t know enough to have an opinion about schools chief Carmen Fariña, who took over the Department of Education in January.

Other results from the 2014 survey, which collected responses from more than 980,000 parents, teachers, and students, show remarkable stability. Ninety-five percent of parents say they’re “satisfied” with their child’s education, a figure that hasn’t changed much since 2010. (Department officials have cited that number in the past to show that they had support from city parents.)

Meanwhile, teachers say that an understanding of the new Common Core learning standards, which in some classrooms has shifted the way students are taught, is slowly taking hold among parents. Fifty-nine percent of teachers said families at their school understand what the standards “mean for their child,” up from 52 percent last year.

Some other takeaways:

— The top school-improvement request from parents was smaller class sizes, which 23 percent said was their top priority. Class sizes topped the list last year, too. The second most frequent request was more preparation for state tests, with 17 percent saying it was their top priority. (They probably aren’t the same parents who opted their students out of the exams, which parents of at least 1,925 city students did this year.)

— One in four high schoolers said there was no adult helping them with planning for college or other post-graduate plans, as was the case last year. Saturating city high schools with college guidance would cost almost $200 million a year, the city comptroller noted in 2012.

— Teachers are generally satisfied with the feedback they’re getting from their principals, with 86 percent saying it helped them improve last year. This year was the first year of the city’s new teacher evaluation system, which uses the Danielson rubric for observations. But statewide, the nearly universally positive observation ratings that resulted have come under fire.

— The survey also showed slight increases in the share of teachers saying their professional development has been sustained (82 percent) and collegial (86 percent). The new United Federation of Teachers contract adds more time every week for that kind of training, which will come at the cost of some time with students.

Click here to view the question-by-question responses or here for the city’s more selective presentation of results, which includes some year-to-year comparisons. You can find results by school by searching here.

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