The Kyrene School District Governing Board focused on results of a recent district-wide Gallup Poll of its schools during its monthly meeting Tuesday evening.
The Feb. 12 meeting mostly focused on the results of the polls, which surveyed 1,850 out of 2,314 employees (a participation rate of 80 percent) of the elementary and middle schools in the Kyrene district, including the nine elementary and three middle schools in Ahwatukee Foothills.
In the past, polls have shown a correlation between higher student achievement and engagement and higher teacher engagement.
The Gallup results indicated a slight decline in staff satisfaction at work, as well as a lower staff engagement rate — meaning a greater likelihood of calling out of work or eventually leaving their place of employment.
According to Mark Knight, executive director of human resources for the Kyrene School District, the polls were conducted from Nov. 5 to 19, 2012, and included the responses of teachers as well as crossing guards, bus drivers and other school staff.
Knight said that although the Kyrene results dropped slightly as a whole, it is “still ahead of what the average workplace looks like.”
However, the poll asserted that most employees strongly agree with being committed to quality, and that the district cares about their needs in the educational system.
The results also indicated that while Kyrene staff members feel they have a quality workplace (84 percent), they also feel there is a lack of clarity as to what is expected of them, and they generally do not think they have the materials they need to succeed.
John King, a member of the board, said that he was not caught off-guard by the dissatisfaction with the materials provided to staff.
“I’ve heard for many, many years the about issue of materials, so I’m not surprised to see that there,” he said. “And I’m probably not surprised to see that it won’t move until other things change to create the impetus to create at least the potential for new materials.”
What impact will the Gallup findings have on local families that send their children to the public school in the district?
Jennifer Reynolds, a mother of four children (two of whom attend school in the Kyrene public school system), said that she was not surprised by the results.
“I thought they were right what I expected,” she said, explaining that she thinks the new curriculum is slowing down her fourth-grader, who is proficient in math. “Things were going to go down with the new Common Core... and the budget crisis we’re having.”
Because staff in the district have been dealing with budget issues, a different system of teacher evaluation, and the new Common Core Standards curriculum, school board member Ross Robb wondered if the district’s expectations were perhaps too high in a season of change.
“I think we really have to ask ourselves — alright it went down, what did we really expect to happen?” Robb said. “Maybe the answer is — we didn’t.”
• Katie-Lee Faulkner is a sophomore at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.