Appendix 2-1

Working Conditions: Self-Assessment Instrument

 

Introduction

 

This instrument focuses on numerous aspects of working conditions proven to influence the retention of a quality workforce. Each category is accompanied by a reference that will provide more detailed information should one wish to pursue it. The instrument is designed as a tool to assist in identifying areas of strengths and needs. Improvement strategies to address the categories, topics and activities are implied but should in no way limit possible interventions.

 

Implementation

 

The self-assessment can be implemented in any way that best suits the user’s needs. It is recommended that before its implementation, a task force or retention team is created that will take responsibilities for reviewing the instrument, selecting sections to be used, and designing follow-through strategies once the information is collected. It provides several examples for each topic, but additional topics or factors will likely be identified during the self-assessment process.

 

A commitment at the district or building level is necessary for this to be an effective retention improvement strategy and should be incorporated into the larger retention initiative. Section Six describes the context within which the instrument could be used. Please review the framework described by the five areas of inquiry to determine the most appropriate use for your school and/or district’s needs. It is recommended that this intervention be inclusive of both general and special education, and include leadership reflecting both perspectives.

 

Therefore, the following elements should be decided before embarking on the implementation:

 

 

 Assessment Category: Leadership/Decision Making

 

Topic 1: Building/District Support for Teachers

(National Commission on Teaching America’s Future 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)  The principal and/or superintendent and special education director are involved in a teacher retention initiative.

 

2)  The school leader takes the initiative to bring general and special educators together on a regular basis for communication and consultation.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Policy/Procedures that Support Teachers
(National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    Policies exist, are implemented and data is collected to promote retention of skilled teacher personnel.

 

2)    The superintendent and/or principal is conversant about special education law and regulations at the national and state levels and is a strong advocate for children eligible for special education.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 3: Teacher Control Over Curriculum and Instruction
(National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   Teachers are part of the team that determines the school and district curriculum and materials selection.

 

2)   Teachers are shielded from unnecessary disruptions so they may attend to teaching. 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 4: Appropriate Class Assignments for Teachers (Birkeland, Johnson, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   Teachers are assigned to teach subjects for which they possess credentials, and in classrooms for which they have demonstrated classroom management expertise.

 

2)   Para-educators possess the skills and knowledge they need to work effectively with the student(s) to whom they have been assigned.

 

3)   Smaller classes are provided for more challenging students.

 

4)   Caseloads for special educators are reasonable.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 5: Adequate Pay Scales and Financial Incentives (Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2002)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   The starting salary for teachers is competitive for the region.

 

2)    A program for financial incentives exists that includes:

  • A signing bonus
  • Mortgage assistance
  • Loan forgiveness
  • Merit pay increases

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 6: Equitable Application of Licensing and Certification Regulations (Birkeland, Johnson, 2003; National Education Association, 2003; Council for Exceptional Children, 2002)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   Only teachers possessing license or certification are hired.

 

2)    Provisionally licensed teachers are given standard times and procedures for meeting certification regulations.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 7: Induction and Mentoring Programs (Villani, 2002)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   New teachers have knowledge of the school and district practices.

 

2)    New teachers become part of a mentoring program immediately.

 

3)   Special education teachers and related service personnel are linked at a building and/or district level with mentors.

 

4)    The district has a close partnership with an institution of higher education as part of an induction program.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 8:  Personnel Evaluation Systems
(National Clearinghouse for Professions in Special Education, 1998)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    Teachers understand the expectations for job performance.

 

2)    Teachers receive regular feedback on their performance.

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Category: School Climate

 

Topic 1: Comprehensive Student Support and Discipline Systems
(Birkeland, Johnson, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    Explicit school-wide behavioral norms and discipline policies exist for students.

 

2)   Policies and norms exist for teachers as well.

 

3)    Policies and norms are constantly enforced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Topic 2: Focus on Student Results and Outcomes
(National Commission on Teaching America’s Future, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   A school-wide commitment to improving student results exists.

 

2)    There are shared mechanisms for measuring results.

 

3)   These mechanisms emphasize continuous improvement and are not punitive.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 3: Safe Environment for Staff, Students, and Community Members
(National Education Association, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    School-wide norms reflect the value of respect for and protection of staff, students, and community volunteers.

 

2)    The physical condition of the school is safe and attractive, and meets ADA requirements.

 

3)    The amount and type of space allocated for a particular activity is appropriate, functional and pleasant.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 4: Climate of Respect for All (National Education Association, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   A system to acknowledge contributions from all school personnel exists including:

  • Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Staff
  • Students
  • Community members

 

2)   A welcoming activity or function is conducted for new faculty.

 

3)    All students (e.g., students with disabilities, bi-lingual students) are afforded opportunities to be acknowledged contributors to their school culture. 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Category: Infrastructure

 

Topic 1: Number of Students
(National Commission on Teaching for America’s Future, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   There is an adequate student-to-teacher ratio.

 

2)   There is an adequate para-educator-to-student ratio.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Team Teaching (National Education Association, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   Team teaching, if appropriate, is an expected methodology.

 

2)    Reflective opportunities for teachers exist with an agreed upon format.

 

3)   General and special educators work in collaboration to plan for shared student responsibilities.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 3: Planning Time Available
(National Commission on Teaching for America’s Future, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    Sufficient time is provided daily to allow planning for classroom instruction.

 

2)    There is flexible time available for special education planning that includes:

  • Family/faculty conferences
  • IEP meetings at different times during the day

  • General/special education team planning

  • Completion of paperwork

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 4: Curriculum Guidelines
(Birkeland, Johnson, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   A description of the school and district curriculum exists:

  • For all grades

  • For all subjects

  • Available to families

  • Reflecting standards

 

2)   Curriculum guidelines are reviewed periodically by faculty and administration.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 5: Adequate Supply of Materials
(Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    Every teacher knows how much money they have for materials purchases.

 

2)   Teachers are asked for their input into materials needs.

 

3)    Materials used in the classroom are up-to-date.

 

4)    All students have adequate materials.

 

5)   Assistance is available to teachers for materials adaptation for students in special education.

 

6)   Materials are aligned with the state’s learning standards.

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 6: Technology Support
(OSEP, 2002; National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   Technology use is part of the school culture.

 

2)   Assistance is available to teachers for utilizing technology.

 

3)   Administrators and teachers utilize the assistive technology resources for students requiring special technology assistance. 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 7: Managing Paperwork
(Menlove, 2003; Cook, Williams, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    There is assistance available to general and special educators in the form of:

  • In-service training

  • Software

  • Website access

  • Para-professional support

  • Secretarial support

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Category: Content/Skills

 

Topic 1: Opportunities for Professional Development
(OSEP, 2002: National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, 2003; National Education Association, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    Training needs for teachers are determined through an annual performance development plan based on an evaluation of student results.

 

2)    Teachers are asked to identify their training needs.

 

3)   Opportunities offered by institutions of higher education and professional organizations are available to teachers.

 

4)   In-service opportunities are provided to faculty, staff and community members focused on new rules and regulations from the state and federal levels. 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Ability to Work with Diverse Students
(Sargent, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   All teachers demonstrate skills and commitment to working with diverse students including:

  • Culturally diverse

  • Non-English speaking students

  • Students with disabilities

 

2)   General and special educators receive adequate training to develop the skills necessary for working with diverse students.

 

3)   Teachers receive sufficient, accurate, relevant information on their students.

 

4)    Teachers receive diagnostic information on their students relating to educational issues and needs when appropriate.

 

5)    Teachers receive information regarding a student’s IEP goals and services when appropriate. 

 

 

 

 

 

Assessment Category: Community Involvement and Support

 

Topic 1: System of Family Communication
(Birkeland, Johnson, 2003)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)   Family representatives are included in policy decisions made at the school/district levels.

 

2)   Family representatives participate in administration and faculty interviews and hiring decisions.

 

3)   Family and community members receive regular, periodic updates on school/district activities and issues. 

 

 

 

 

 

Topic 2: Community Involvement in Support of Teachers and Students
(Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2002)

 

 

Never

1

Seldom

2

Most of the Time

3

Always

4

1)    The community sponsors various activities in support of both students and teachers.

 

2)    A special education advisory council exists at the district level that meets regularly and disseminates information to the community.