A picture may be worth a thousand words, but numbers also don't lie.
Those two clichés could be used when describing the way New Hanover County views the results of its bi-annual teacher working conditions survey.
Take a look at the bar graph associated with this story. At first glance, it seems there was a dramatic increase, as much as 200%, in the percentage of educators who feel their "school is a good place to learn."
The percentages tell a different story. The actual increase from 2012 to 2014 was only .8%, from 81.9% in 2012 to 82.7% in 2014.
The slide mentioned above will be presented to the public and the New Hanover County Board of Education at Tuesday night's meeting, along with several others graphs which are meant to show the changes in the teacher working conditions survey in the past two years.
Dr. LaChawn Smith, Assistant Superintendent of Education for New Hanover County Schools, created the presentation and defends the use of this graph.
"Slide 12 indicates that 82.7% of our teachers that responded to the survey which is 82.5% of eligible respondents indicated that they either agree or strongly agree that their school is a good place to work and learn. We believe that this is trending in the right direction," Dr. Smith emailed in response to our inquiry.
The way the bar graphs are presented in the power point presentation vary slightly from slide to slide. The scale on the left hand side of the graph determines the height of the bar. Some of the graphs have scales that range from 1–100, but others go from 70–95.
"The values for each bar graph are included to ensure that anyone viewing the graphs are aware of the actual differences in scores. The scales were generated as a function of excel and designed for use in a PowerPoint slide presentation," Dr. Smith emailed. "I do believe that if the values were not present then the information would be somewhat misleading."
The survey is sent to all teachers statewide to fill out in secret. In New Hanover County, 82.5% of teachers responded.
A majority of the categories, 16 of 20, saw declines from the 2012 survey, with the biggest being in ways which the state interacts with the school system. Only 43% of teachers thought that state assessment data was available in time to impact teaching, which is down 28% from 2012's score of 71.8%.
The only category that saw a net gain from 2012 was managing student conduct. New Hanover County teachers think they are consistently enforcing rules for student conduct 1% better than they did in 2012.
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