How pissed off is the staff at your school?

Teachers at Lakewood and Stonewall Jackson elementaries seem fed up, while staffs at Rogers, Sanger, Mata and Hexter appear quite hopeful.

From the Alex Sanger Elementary website
From the Alex Sanger Elementary website

A quick-and-easy new web feature from the Dallas Morning News allows parents of Dallas ISD students to type in their schools and get a better sense of staff morale. The data is based on anonymous, voluntary district surveys in fall 2014 and fall 2015, so it’s also useful to compare whether morale is improving or decreasing.

A quick glance through the results of our neighborhood’s schools had these revealing finds:

• A whopping 94 percent of the staff at Dan D. Rogers Elementary believe their campus is headed in the right direction, which is the highest rate of East Dallas’ elementary campuses. Rogers is followed closely by Sanger at 90 percent, and Hexter and Mata Montessori, both at 89 percent. The staffs who least believe in their schools are at Stonewall Jackson and Lakewood — only 40 percent and 52 percent, respectively.

• Staffs have considerably less confidence in Dallas ISD as a whole than in their individual campuses. Most staffs’ hover in the 50s and 60s in terms of DISD pride. Rogers and Sanger are the biggest believers — 89 percent and 87 percent — while Lakewood and Stonewall are the biggest doubters — only 31 percent and 38 percent.

• The biggest jumps in morale improvement are at Hexter and Mount Auburn elementaries — up 34 percent and 29 percent — while the biggest dip is at Stonewall — down 24 percent.

• One-hundred percent of Mata’s and 98 percent of Sanger’s staff overwhelmingly believe their campus is clean, safe and free of physical hazards, while only 46 percent of Lakewood’s and 50 percent of Stonewall’s staff believe the same. (Both campuses are about to be upgraded and enlarged because of the spring 2014 bridge plan.)

• Rogers has the best handle on discipline issues: 94 percent of its teachers say unruly students are not permitted to disrupt the learning environment. Sanger and Hexter are close behind at 87 percent. At Lakewood and J.L. Long Middle School, however, 44 percent and 39 percent, respectively, think students are out of hand.

• Mata and Rogers’ staffs feel most supported by its campus leadership in providing quality instruction (88 percent and 86 percent). In contrast, Lakewood and Stonewall’s staffs feel the least supported (27 percent and 36 percent).

• The staffs at Rogers and Sanger are the biggest cheerleaders of their schools; 93 percent and 91 percent, respectively, would recommend that families send children to their campuses. Only 63 percent of Stonewall’s staff and 68 percent of Mount Auburn’s would recommend the same, however.

• Many of the elementary campuses strongly believe that most of their students will attend college. 95 percent or more of Lakewood, Stonewall, Mata, Hexter, Sanger and Rogers staffs see universities in their students’ futures. Mount Auburn and Long were the lowest at 70 percent and 61 percent.

Based on these results, a few observations:

• Recent changes to curriculum and structure at Rogers, Sanger and Mata appear to be a big boost to those schools and their staffs. Mata and Rogers are two of the district’s newest choice schools — the former is a dual-language Montessori campus and the other a personalized learning campus (described as “high-tech Montessori”) — while Sanger just added a middle school and is finding success with its dual-immersion curriculum.

• Robert E. Lee and William Lipscomb elementaries, which are both in the early years of adopting International Baccalaureate curriculum, don’t have the top scores in the neighborhood but aren’t at the bottom, either. Both campuses indicated morale improvement and improved direction over the past year, and a solid percentage (76 percent at Lee and 82 percent at Lipscomb) would recommend their school to neighborhood families.

• Lakewood and Stonewall have a reputation for being the most desirable elementary schools in the district, but their staffs clearly don’t agree, at least at the moment. Both schools have experienced quite a bit of principal turnover in the last few years and may be feeling those effects. Similar turnover isn’t hurting Hexter in the same way, however.

• Long seems to be suffering a blow from the loss of longtime principal Danielle Petters. All of its campus scores dipped this year; perhaps the fall 2016 survey will be telling in terms of whether the new leadership is finding its footing.

• Though Woodrow Wilson High School‘s staff has fairly low morale and doesn’t agree with DISD’s direction, its scores in other areas were solid 60s and 70s, with a whopping 85 percent of teachers believe most of their students will attend college. We’re guessing that’s a high score among DISD high school campuses; stay tuned for a future story.

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  • Valerie England

    It makes me sad to see some of this data analysis on some of the most beloved schools in our community. Leadership plays a huge role in how the students, staff and parents FEEL about things. It doesn’t matter if they are new or have tenure, it’s how they exude confidence, ability and address the day to day goals and objectives with a positive energy. Do they listen and provide good sound feedback to their teachers, students and parents. A good school leader dosent usually care about the big district bureaucratic system: they care about what’s happening in their four walls and what it takes to have a great system of communication, support and action that leads to success. I’m sure these high rated morale schools have this in place. When the majority of people FEEL good about things the low morale people will usually follow along or leave. An updated, clean, fresh facility would make people FEEL better about things but it’s still the leadership who makes the difference. I have seen great leaders work out of deplorable conditions but their team doesn’t appear to suffer. Their leader knows how to overcome this by modeling and exuding the strengths of compassion, empathy and focus on the real need: to make the staff, students and parents FEEL good about what’s taking place in their campus. Unfortunately, we are not a FEEL good leadership system any longer. Leaders claim they don’t have TIME for this. They MUST ensure that the FEEL components are addressed in their goals and objectives. Surveys are still a FEELING oriented study. We can be doing EVERYTHING right but if we don’t make the person (who is taking the survey) FEEL good it’s going to show up on the survey. The best thing a leader can do is know what a survey is going to ask and define some goals that help ensure they will get good results. Success will follow. I’ve always said the bottom line will follow how the leader makes their people FEEL. If the leadership eats their staff, the staff will eat our parents and our little people. But if our leaders feed our teachers and support staff, they will feed the students and parents which makes everyone FEEL satisfied.

  • Los_Politico

    Really good analysis. I started to play with the Morning News tool but ran out of steam. Thank you!