Fayette schools score below state average in multiple areas of working conditions survey

Fayette County scored below the state average in multiple areas of the 2023-2024 public school certified employee working conditions survey, officials from the educator’s group Ky 120 United-AFT said Tuesday.

The IMPACT Survey was released by the Kentucky Department of Education Tuesday. The latest survey asks state certified school staff questions about their working conditions.

The 2023 Impact Kentucky Survey, formerly called the TELL Kentucky survey, is given every two years. Certified educators working at least half-time are given the opportunity to provide input on teaching conditions that can be used to inform improvements within schools, districts and statewide.

Fayette County, with 3,057 responses, scored below the state average in several areas including staff-leadership relationships, school leadership, managing student behavior, school climate, professional learning, emotional well-being and belonging, feedback and coaching and resources.

FCPS was four points lower than the state in staff-leadership relationships, school leadership and managing student behavior. The district also was two points lower in school climate and emotional well being, six points lower in professional learning, eight points lower in feedback and coaching, and one point lower in resources.

Fayette County scored five points above the state in the area of “educating all students.”

“The survey reveals there are individual FCPS schools in crisis. Learning spaces are crowded and in need of repair and too many of our students’ needs are not getting the resources they need to excel. Unfortunately, staff voices have been ignored, dismissed, and locked out,” said a statement from KY 120 United. “Recruiting staff means nothing if we cannot retain them.”

Millcreek Elementary School staff scored each condition for teachers between 4 and 58 points below the state average.

Crawford Middle School staff scored each condition for teachers between 12 and 37 points below the state average.

“While there are things Fayette County has to celebrate, a closer look reveals concerning issues,” the statement said.

In April 2023, the Fayette school district stopped recognizing KY 120 United-AFT, saying the group needed to fill out appropriate paperwork with state agencies.

Although Fayette teachers ranked their conditions lower than those statewide in many areas in the 2023-24 survey, a comparison of Fayette employees from the last survey showed improvement in every area except for feedback and coaching and professional learning, which both declined, and managing student behavior which stayed the same.

“The survey results were just released to the public today. We want to give our principals, faculty and administrative leadership the opportunity to look at all of the data before we make any statements,” Fayette Schools spokesperson Dia Davidson-Smith told the Herald-Leader Tuesday.

Statewide, 39,406 educators responded. They responded 78% favorably to questions about staff-leadership relationships, 2% higher than the previous report. The greatest increase, 7%, was seen in emotional well-being and belonging.

Statewide, a total of 34% of educators reported a favorable response regarding the emotional well-being of their colleagues because of their work, and 55% reported a favorable response regarding their own emotional well-being.

“Last survey, we clearly saw the strong effects the pandemic had on educators and the system. The current survey offers encouragement with all areas of data moving in a positive direction, but KDE and districts must continue to value feedback from all stakeholders,” Kentucky Department of Education Associate Commissioner Byron Darnall said in a news release.

Kentucky Interim Commissioner of Education Robin Fields Kinney said the survey results show important improvements and areas that still need support.

“It’s important to review the results so the department, districts, schools and families can know where they can make a change to encourage growth within the education field, as well as provide support for those already in it,” Kinney said.

A total of 50% of educators statewide said they have adequate school resources. A total of 86% of educators statewide said the quality of resources at their school needs to improve, KDE officials said.