New SC survey of educators reveals paperwork time suck, overcrowded classrooms keep them from teaching

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SC Department of Education – A state-wide survey of teachers and educators was release Monday from the SC Department of Education. The survey reveals new insight into the challenges teachers face. Hundreds of teachers from Lowcountry schools responded to the survey over the summer.

The survey reveals teachers struggle to handle all the paperwork required by their school district and Department of Ed in part because of overcrowded classrooms.

Middle school, high school, and adult education teachers responded to the state-wide survey this summer. The results from a question regarding their average class size reveals: Almost one-fifth (18%) of respondents reported having class sizes of 20 students or less. Over two-thirds (70%) of respondents reported having class sizes of 21 to 30 students while 12% percent responded that they had class sizes above 30 students.

“Larger class sizes can correlate with a greater burden on teachers to complete paperwork and administrative activities for their students,” according to the report.

“Parents and teachers in South Carolina, and across the nation, have long voiced support for smaller, more manageable class sizes where teachers can focus on individualized instruction,” according to the report.

Teachers say the volume of paperwork required of them keeps them from teaching.

More than 70 percent of teachers responded to the survey that the amount of paperwork they are required to complete prevents them from effectively teaching. Some 81.4 percent believe that the multiple forms they complete are duplicative and ask for similar or identical information.

Only half of the respondents (50.9%) understood the purpose of their paperwork and over one third of teachers (39.9%) feel that their supervisors do not use their paperwork to inform decisions regarding instruction.

The report outlined five key change the SC Department of Education should consider making.

Recommendations :

1. South Carolina should continue to address the state’s growing teacher recruitment and retention issues, which exacerbate class sizes, teacher workloads, and subsequently the amount of paperwork.

2. Education policy making bodies should limit the number of school, district, and state initiatives introduced to avoid overwhelming teachers with new paperwork. Educators may benefit from a moratorium on new programs and requirements for at least three years. Schools and school districts are still working through implementation of new statewide programs such as Read to Succeed, to more recently Diploma Pathways and the Multi-Tired System of Support (MTSS) Framework, among other district and school based programs.

3. Contract days and compensation should be extended to account for current paperwork and other administrative requirements. For example, instead of a 190-day contract, consider a 195-day contract. These extra days would give teachers time to deal with paperwork and professional learning requirements, while still being compensated for their work.

4. The SCDE, working in conjunction with school districts, should further examine the top ranked issues identified by educators from the survey and develop best practices and templates that are available for all educators.

5. The SCDE should continue to streamline processes and integrate or consolidate reporting systems at the state level to reduce redundancy. The SCDE should consider elimination of reporting requirements not mandated by state or federal law.

The full report can be found here: https://ed.sc.gov/data/reports/legislative/legislative-reports/special-one-time-reports/2019-07-13-paperwork-reduction-and-streamlining-report/

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