The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is in the process of recruiting as many as 60 districts to participate in a teacher survey about the implementation of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks, educator evaluation, professional development and personalized and digital learning tools.
The MTA has reviewed the final draft of the survey and is recommending that locals not participate. Participation is voluntary. As of Jan. 21, seven districts had declined to take the survey. Click here
to see which districts have been selected and which have opted not to take the survey.
If your superintendent contacts you about this survey, we suggest that your president inform your field representative immediately to discuss how best to respond.
The MTA has concluded that, given the techniques, questions and background of the project, the survey is not a legitimate tool for gauging what is happening in K-12 classrooms and in no way will benefit students or educators.
- The survey is a product of two outside interests that the DESE has engaged to assist in data collection. One of the DESE’s partners oversees a federal Department of Education grant-funded research project on college readiness, and the other is a company administering surveys in six other states.
- The development of the survey has been anything but collaborative. Last October, the DESE shared some of the survey questions with the MTA and asked for input. The MTA provided numerous suggestions on ways to change questions to allow for more honest and holistic responses. Most of the MTA’s suggestions were ignored in the final draft of the survey.
- The survey is loaded with leading questions that will likely generate unrealistic responses or potentially self-critical answers. It is easy to see how this survey could inaccurately portray educators as doing a poor job or erroneously support current education policies concerning assessments and evaluations. The survey asks detailed questions about educators’ practice, but does not allow for providing any context to explain responses.
- The survey directs educators who do not teach English language arts to answer questions about the ELA Frameworks and related classroom practices. While math and science teachers will respond to questions about their subjects, educators who teach subjects such as art, physical education or vocational or career education will be asked to respond to questions about the ELA Framework implementation. The same applies to educators who provide instructional support, such as guidance counselors.
- The administration procedures raise considerable concerns about confidentiality and anonymity. Districts will provide educators’ names, e-mail addresses and Massachusetts educator ID numbers — their MEPIDs. Each teacher will receive a personalized link to a survey that contains questions based in part on the data submitted annually to the DESE on roles and assignments. While the DESE has stated that all identifying information will be removed before any data is provided by the survey vendor to the department, the data will not be submitted anonymously.
A DESE website about the survey has been created that includes a link to the survey instruments. — www.doe.mass.edu/research/vista/
. A DESE document sent to superintendents clearly states that participation in the survey is voluntary.
- The DESE expects to administer the survey online between Feb. 22 and March 11.
- Teachers, principals and superintendents will be asked to complete the survey. Respondents will be eligible to receive a gift certificate.
- The DESE will offer schools and districts a monetary incentive for participation.
- If response rates are sufficient, school and district reports will be available. The DESE has not provided sample reports.
The MTA fully supports — and strongly advocates for — the inclusion of educators’ perspectives in analyzing and establishing policies and practices. In our view, however, this survey does not accurately or authentically capture educators’ views and should not be used to affect or inform education policy in Massachusetts.