Statewide survey shows more room for improvement than before at Aspen School District
Scores trending downward compared to past years
There’s room for improvement in the climate and culture at Aspen School District — more room than there was in 2018 or 2020, according to the results of this year’s statewide Teaching and Learning Conditions Colorado survey.
The survey measures responses across nearly a dozen different “constructs” that cover categories such as school leadership, professional development, time and facilities and resources. It can be interpreted as “an accurate representation of the working conditions that teachers actually experience in their schools,” but it isn’t a “satisfaction survey,” according to a chart of do’s and don’ts for interpreting the data.
“These are educators’ perceptions of the presence of important, research-based factors in their school that affect student learning and teacher retention,” the chart states. Consider it a “snapshot in time” and a “baseline tool” with results that are subject to change over time.
The results provided individual “favorability ratings” for each question on the survey, as well as overall ratings for each category based on those responses and a “composite result” across all categories. The higher the rating, the better the score.
The Teaching and Learning Conditions in Colorado survey has come around every two years since 2018, with the survey open from late January to the beginning of March. It’s led by the Colorado Department of Education and operated through a collaborative of half a dozen state education agencies and other representatives. Cambridge Education helps administer the survey.
Surveys went out to 91,413 certified and classified educators and school personnel in Colorado this year and 46,088 participated with valid responses, according to the overall report for this year’s results.
In Aspen School District, 149 people took the survey, including 111 teachers, 12 special service providers, nine school leaders and 17 education support professionals also responded, according to the demographic breakdown for the district.
The survey uses a Likert scale with four main options — strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree — and a fifth, for “I don’t know.”
Responses of “strongly agree” and “agree” counted as favorable responses. “I don’t know” responses didn’t count toward the favorability ratings. Not every respondent answered every question on the survey; percentages are based on the number of people who did respond to that question.
The survey did include questions about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on teaching and learning, but the results didn’t draw direct connections between pandemic factors and favorability ratings in other categories.
In Aspen, the 2022 composite result showed an overall favorability rating of 71.6%, compared with 77.2% in 2020 and 79% in 2018. The state average was 76.1% in 2022, compared with 76.5% in 2020 and 77.2% in 2018.
That downward trend applied across all categories with available data in Aspen when compared with the 2020 results.
But in two categories — school leadership and managing student conduct — the 2022 results for Aspen were slightly higher than the 2018 results, showing overall improvement over four years even though scores this year were lower than the 2020 scores.
In the remaining nine categories, the 2022 results had lower favorable response rates than the 2018 results as well as the 2020 results, even though some categories had shown an improvement from 2018 to 2020.
That’s not to say that the survey categories had a lot of negative responses, though. A results dashboard for the survey color-coded scores, with greener boxes indicating more favorable responses and red and yellow scores indicating less favorable responses, and Aspen’s dashboard for this year is still mostly green — just not as green as it was in 2018 or 2020.
In the “facilities and resources” category, for instance, the 2022 score had an 87% favorable response rate; that’s lower than the 90.3% favorable response rate of 2020 and the 93.7% rate of 2018, but four points higher than the 2022 state average of 83%. It was the highest-scoring category this year for the district.
“Community support and involvement” also scored high, with an 84.6% favorable response rate. That score was down more than 10 percentage points from the score in 2018, which was 95.3%, and down a few points from the score in 2020 of 87.3%. But compared with this year’s state average of 81.1%, it’s still above par.
In all other categories, Aspen’s scores were lower than the state average for 2022. The difference was a few percentage points in most instances.
Three categories had bigger discrepancies of 10 or more percentage points between Aspen and state scores, and two of them were the district’s lowest scores overall.
In the professional development category, which measured the “general approach to professional development, including alignment with other work, adequacy and types of opportunities,” Aspen’s overall favorability rating in that category was 54.1%, down from 62.4% in 2020 and 68.1% in 2018.
The state average in that category was 66.3% this year, down from 68.4% in both 2020 and 2018.
In the “time” category, which focused on “the availability of and use of time,” Aspen’s overall favorability score was 46%, down from 55.2% in 2020 and 60.9% in 2018. The state average in that category was 57.2% this year, down from 58.3% in 2020 and 57.8% in 2018.
In the “general reflection” category, which “gauges staff’s overall impressions of the school, as well as future employment plans,” Aspen’s overall favorable response rate was 72.3% in 2022, down from 84.6% in 2020 and 91.4% in 2018. (The drop of nearly 20 percentage points was the steepest among any category in Aspen.)
Statewide, the average was 82.1% in 2022, down from 82.7% in 2020 and 89% in 2018 for that category.
Across the board, state average scores didn’t all decrease like Aspen’s did this year. In Colorado, four categories had steadily decreasing scores and two categories had rising scores over 2018, 2020 and 2022. Other categories have trend lines that look more like mountain peaks than single slopes, with increases or plateaus followed by decreases, and in one case, a declining score followed by a higher one.
The full results for Aspen School District and for school districts throughout Colorado are available at http://www.cde.state.co.us/site/tlccsurvey. To explore the data dashboard, go to http://www.cde.state.co.us/code/tlccresults and select Aspen 1 as the district and the unit.
Editor’s note: This story is the first in a series exploring the data of the survey; for more reporting on the climate and culture at Aspen School District, check out the “Culture Shift” cover story in this week’s edition of the Aspen Times Weekly.