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First-ever statewide teacher survey points to need for more instructional time

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Last year, Colorado lawmakers passed a bill calling for a biennial teacher survey they hoped would help them make decisions about school financing and education reform. The first statewide results of that move -- dubbed the Teaching, Empowering, Leading & Learning Initiative, an incredibly long name predictably shortened to an acronym (TELL) -- have recently been released. Some of them aren't pretty.

Among the results:

48 percent of teachers said their instruction time is insufficient 49 percent said they don't have enough time to collaborate with their colleagues 51 percent said little is done to minimize routine administrative paperwork 36 percent said they spend more than ten hours a week on school-related activities outside the regular school work day; another 31 percent said they spend between five and ten hours a week 66 percent said teachers have no role at all or only a small role in deciding how the school budget is spent 46 percent said students don't "come to school ready to learn on a regular basis"

Not all the responses were negative. Just over two-thirds of teachers -- 67 percent -- said they have access to appropriate instructional materials. Even more -- 85 percent -- said their schools are safe, while 72 percent said the community is supportive of their school, and 62 percent said teachers at their school trust each other.

Results for specific school districts and schools haven't been released to the public yet. But fifty districts -- those that had at least 40 percent of their teachers participate -- already know their results. The TELL website promises that all the data will be made public later this year.

How will this information be used? According to the website, it'll help promote discussions among teachers and school administrators, as well as aid policymakers "as they develop and implement education reform policies." As for which policies, that's another question. But from looking at the preliminary results, one thing is clear: Teachers feel they need more time to do their jobs right.

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