Survey results: Why isn’t your school organization making more progress?

I’d like to thank everyone who participated in my 3–minute survey, Why isn’t your school organization making more progress? We had a total of 561 participants. Some charts and tables are below (click on images for larger versions). Also, here are some downloadable files:

My online survey software provided some summary data:


The chart below shows the average rank of each item, along with standard deviations. The lower the rank, the more important the reason.


Although Lack of adequate funding emerged as the top reason cited, Ineffective leadership had more top 3 appearances than any other item. I admit that Accountability demands of NCLB came out lower than I expected.


Finally, Jon Becker wondered if maybe some demand characteristics were in play here…


Feel free to do any other analysis you‘d like on the raw data; just leave a link in the comments area for this post so we all can find it. Thanks again to everyone who participated and/or publicized this survey!

6 Responses to “Survey results: Why isn’t your school organization making more progress?”

  1. I missed the original survey, and since it is closed I can’t see the quesitons, but I would like to know about the Other category. Was that a choice in and of itself or was it a compilation of other choices that only had minimal response. Specifically I would like to know whether lack of access was one of the choices.

  2. Hi Art, the survey questions were very simple – just what you see listed above. Other was just ‘Other’ – not a compilation I made myself.

  3. I 100% believe Jon has a very valid point in that this is basically Scott’s readership, and that would tend to bend the results “slightly” to those interested in technology one way or another (sarcasm, sorry).
    Although I have to admire that Scott lived through the stones thrown about the “quality” of the survey, the whole point is that is ISN’T scientific…it’s a conversation starter. Anyone doing their thesis on this should really rethink that concept as the data is totally invalid – except that it points out what WE are thinking. Of course there are options that weren’t listed (therefore the “other” so you could create your own), but I personally didn’t want to sort through a list of 25 items, so thanks, Scott. There were some interesting items, however, including the administration part that Scott noted landed in the top three frequently.

  4. I think that I would agree very strongly with the trends pointed out in the survey. I would cite ineffective leadership as a major barrier to making more progress in our schools. I would have to comment, however, that this is largely impacted by the way in which our schools are structured. We have a tremendous amount of management responsibility piled on the same individuals who are supposed to be providing the leadership. I currently serve as a high school principal and although I feel I do spend a good deal of time in a leadership role, I am sure that if my time were tracked, it would show that I spend as much or more time on management issues. Teacher evaluation is both a management and leadership responsibility, but when you have a struggling teacher who is resistant to help, it becomes strictly management. Discipline is a major factor in the role of a principal as well. We would like to spend more time out working with teachers to create a more effective learning environment through the development of more engaging lessons, but must also deal with the disciplinary situations which arise due to what at times may be instructional design. Students also are dealing with a tremendous amount of stress from outside the school. I must also spend my time with students who have needs which are not currently met and thus are disruptive. We have a number of other positions in our school to handle some of this, but an administrator’s personal involvement in these situations is key to understanding just what professional development teachers may need. Professional development time must address improved pedagogy, and provide teachers new skills not only in the area of technology, assessment, instruction, but also how to deal with the issues our students are experiencing in our changing world.

  5. Scott,

    While I did not get a chance to take the survey I believe you have some interesting results. I believe from my experience that professional development may be the top reason. Even as I look at the data I believe that lack of effective and sustainable professional development of administration leads to ineffective leadership which then causes poor professional development of teachers. It seems to run an unending circle. Thanks so much for posting some info and data that causes important reflection.
    -Mike Gorman

  6. David Keane has some excellent points. “Ineffective leadership” needs to be considered in the larger picture of the other items. I am not sure we can single out “leadership” (meaning building level I assume) from unions, community, state/federal folks etc. However, the survey serves as a great motivator to not be in the “ineffective leadership” group!

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