Helping to bring quality education materials and services to schools for over 30 years.

K-12 Principals' Assessment of Education

2017 Edition

Jun 8, 2017

MCH Strategic Data (MCH) recently released the K-12 Principals’ Assessment of Education report which contains survey data from close to 1,000 K-12 public school principals. The report captures insights and trends of changing conditions and circumstances in schools and districts across the United States.

According to MCH, this year’s study reaffirmed that principals still play a large role in deciding which products and services are purchased for their schools, even if purchasing happens at the district level. The report also captures insights on special needs, teacher recruitment and readiness, technology trends, and more.

Following are some highlights from the report:

Principals’ Top Concerns

Changes in public education can happen slowly, so perhaps it is not surprising that the top concerns of principals this year are similar to those in previous years. The top five concerns this year are:

1)    Adequate funding and resources

2)    Academic achievement

3)    Family poverty and lack of student readiness

4)    Assessments and accountability

5)    Curriculum and instruction

Although there is some movement up and down with respect to the degrees of importance, the principals’ concerns are similar year over year.

From the Principals’ Office

Principals are often impacted by district decisions. At other times, it is up to the principal to determine how a district policy will be implemented on her campus. The following points reflect the principals’ perspective on specific district-led initiatives.

· 56.5% of principals believe their district leaders have a good understanding of how the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will impact funding for their school.

· 22.6% of principals reported they have a Pre-K program for both 3- and 4-year olds. Another 23.2% have Pre-K for 4-year olds only; and 54.2% of principals expect that they will have Pre-K by next school year. Almost 90% of principals who currently have a Pre-K program are happy with their student outcomes.

· 92.4% of principals think that their districts are moving in the right direction in their policies with regard to the security of student data.

· 22.2% of principals report making school safety and security decisions alone while 74.0% report that their school leadership teams make the decisions. Interestingly, 57.1% also maintain that school safety and security decisions are made at the district level, indicating overlap.

· 84.0% of principals declare that school security programs are funded through general district funds rather than school specific funds.

· School security is high priority for principals who are actively investing in safety.

How Principals Learn of New Products

78.8% of principals want to be contacted via email about new products. This is far and away the preferred method of contact. 17.3% like to receive printed matter. Only 2.5% want a personal visit from a vendor and just 1% want to be approached by phone.

The State of Technology

There is a significant uptick in principals’ reporting adequate school bandwidth this year compared to last. 74.2% of respondents believe that they now have enough bandwidth to support simultaneous online assessments this year. The significant increase of 11.6% over last year is likely due to a variety of factors including President Obama’s CONNECT ED initiative and the reauthorization of E-Rate funds. These programs and others provided additional resources for schools needing to increase their bandwidth and connectivity. This finding is confirmed by a recent report from Education Superhighway, which explains that 10.4 million new students were connected in 2016 and now have the Internet access they need for digital learning.

There was also a corresponding decrease in principals who said that online assessments were driving their technology purchases. This particular measure decreased from 20.5% to 14.4% on its own and the number of principals who agreed that both higher standards and online assessments drove their technology purchases also decreased from 56.2% to 51.0% year over year. These are notable shifts in one year and indicate that buying technology to support online assessments is less of a concern this year. Additional confirmation is found in the increase in the number of principals who reported that neither standards nor online assessments were driving their technology purchases. This segment of principals increased from 18.7% to 26.6%. Together, these indicators point to a remarkable shift year over year.

So what is driving technology purchases this year? 70% percent of those principals who said that neither standards nor assessments were driving their technology purchases this year, reported that meeting student instructional needs was their primary purchasing driver.

Policy and Accountability Move Back to the States

After eight years of a prominent federal role in education programs, bipartisan legislation has returned much of the power and responsibility for education decision-making and accountability back to the states and local districts. Already in transition, states and districts are uncertain how the incoming administration will manage their education agenda, and how it will impact schools across the country. Although more than 56% of principals believe their district leaders understand how the new ESSA legislation will impact their school’s funding, there are still many unanswered questions.

Transitioning to Higher Standards

Fewer principals are concerned about a transition to higher standards this year. Approximately one-third of principals are “less concerned” than last year, and almost half of principals feel “about the same” year over year.

It is clear from the decrease in those still planning for the transition (from 12.4% to 8.2%) and a corresponding increase in those in the process of transitioning (from 65.3% to 69.3%), that principals are deep into the implementation of stronger learning standards. Whether or not they are using the Common Core State Standards or state standards by another name, most schools are still working on the transition and all of the challenges that surround that. But their efforts clearly include efforts to improve college and career readiness.

SOURCE:  K-12 Principals’ Assessment of Education, 2017 Edition, MCH Strategic Data