Hawaii Principal Survey Results – Only One in Nine Principals Has Confidence in Board of Education

The Hawaii Education Institute (EIH), an independent think tank, has released the results of its 2015 Public School Principals Survey.

Education Institute

Methodology.  To participate in this on-line survey, principals were required to identify themselves to EIH.  This ensured that only principals completed the survey, and that no one principal completed the survey more than once.  Some principals chose not to participate because they did not want anyone to have the ability to link them to their opinions about the DOE.  But a majority of principals (144 out of 256) trusted EIH’s promise not to reveal the names of participating principals.

Complete Results Available.  The complete survey results, including the written comments of every survey participants, are attached to this news release.  They also can be found at http://www.edthinktankhawaii.org/.

Major Findings

Climate of Fear.  The climate of fear that was apparent in the 2014 EIH Principals Survey continues to exist.  For example, only two in five principals (41%) say they can express concern or critique DOE policies and practices without fear of reprisal, retaliation, or being unfairly evaluated on their performance evaluations.

Poor Implementation.  Principals give low marks to state DOE leadership for faulty implementation of Common Core and other recent initiatives:

  •  While most principals (70%) think Common Core has been good for their students, less than one in five (18%) thinks that state DOE leadership has done a good job of implementing it.
  • The percentage of principals who think state DOE leadership has done a good job of implementing the new testing regime is even smaller (8%).
  • Three out of four principals (78%) think the DOE’s implementation of the new teacher evaluation system (EES) has adversely affected morale at their schools.

Agreement with Governor Ige: Principals overwhelmingly support school empowerment and the governor’s plan to increase the percentage of DOE funding that is allocated by Weighted Student Formula (WSF) to 75%.

  • Only one in twenty principals (5%) disagree with the following statement:  “The share of DOE funding covered by WSF should be increased to 75% or higher.”
  • Only one in five principals (18%) say that the schools are already “empowered” to an appropriate degree.
  • Seven out of eight (87%) think school-level personnel should be allowed to control the means by which statewide standards and policies are achieved.
  • An even higher percentage of the principals (91%) think a principal who is not satisfied with support services from the DOE should be able to seek comparable services from a different provider.
  • None of the 144 principals disagreed with the following statement:  “I would like more flexibility in determining who will and will not work at my school.”

Lack of Support from DOE Leadership:  Only one in five (18%) thinks the DOE is providing the “system of support” that it is contractually obligated to provide, and the principals who say t DOE leadership treats them like partners are greatly outnumbered by those who say they are sometimes treated like servants.

  • Only 21% think that DOE leadership treats them like a partner.
  • Less than one in three (28%) disagrees with the following statement:  “DOE leadership sometimes treats me and other members of my school community like servants.”
  • Only one in three principals (32%) has confidence in the Superintendent.
  • Only one in five (21%) has confidence in the Assistant Superintendents.
  • Only one in nine (11%) has confidence in the Board of Education.

Observations of EIH leadership:

EIH President and Board Chair Roberta Mayor noted that “survey results indicate that principals are overwhelmingly in favor of Governor Ige’s school empowerment agenda.”

“Leading research indicates that principals are a key factor for student achievement, according to EIH Executive Director Darrel Galera.  “Supporting and empowering principals to be instructional leaders must be a priority, if it is ever to happen.”

EIH Vice-President and Board Vice-chair Ray L’Heureux said EIH’s goal is to add some transparency to the public school system, and added, “We also plan to survey teachers, parents, and state-level administrators in the near future.”

Purposes of the survey include the following:

  • To determine if principals have a collective voice, a shared perspective, and common agreement on relevant issues including school empowerment;
  • To provide feedback on the implementation of required policies, procedures, and initiatives that affect principals and their schools;
  • To provide feedback that can help to improve Hawaii’s public education system – so that principals can:
  1. Be student centered in meeting student learning needs
  2. Be more effective instructional leaders that support classroom teachers
  3. Build and sustain a positive school culture evidenced by high achievement and high morale
  4. Empower their school communities to provide for innovative and effective teaching and learning.

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