Lawrence school district teachers survey indicates disengagement with jobs, satisfaction with colleague relationships

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A majority of Lawrence school district teachers continue to generally feel disengaged with their work, but relationships with their colleagues remain a highlight of their jobs, according to a human resources report.

The district’s HR team has been working to gather information via a survey platform, Educator Perceptions and Insights Center.

During the school board meeting on Monday, administrators shared results from an EPIC survey that 573 certified staff members — 67% of the district’s certified staff, or teachers — participated in during fall 2023.

Participants responded on a 5-point Likert scale measuring whether they felt actively disengaged, disengaged, moderately engaged, engaged or actively engaged in their work. Ratings were based on several considerations, such as school pride, referral to a friend, voice and opinion, professional growth and development, overall satisfaction and others. 

The largest percentage of respondents — 53% — ranked as disengaged, and another 10% ranked as actively disengaged, according to results in the report. The smallest percentage — 3% — ranked as actively engaged; 12% ranked as engaged, and 22% as moderately engaged.

Survey results showed areas of high satisfaction in relationships with school building colleagues and principals; the schools where teachers work; and opportunities to work with diverse student populations.

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Areas of low satisfaction were in the district’s attention and response to mental and emotional health needs; the vision and leadership of the school board; professional development days and opportunities; current salary; amount of teacher plan time allotted; and support for students’ social-emotional needs.

Tori Mitchell, facilitator of recruitment and retention, said feedback in low satisfaction areas are “drivers” of the district’s improvement goals. High satisfaction areas can be leveraged to recruit and retain, she said.

“So one of the things our staff really likes is the relationships in their buildings,” Mitchell said. “So when I go to recruitment fairs, that’s something that I talk to people about. I tell them how much people enjoy working with our colleagues.”

Additionally, the number of certified staff exits, including midyear and end-of-year exits, reported to the board have decreased since last year. Currently, 64 exits have been reported for the end of this year. Mitchell said at this point last year, there were around 111 exits reported. For the 2023-24 year as a whole, there are currently 86 exits, compared to the 2022-23 year’s 177. 

“It’s a much different feeling in HR this year,” Mitchell said. “We’re not getting exits the same way that we were last year, so we expect to stay down.”

The data on certified exits included raw numbers only, not percentages. Board member GR Gordon-Ross told Mitchell and Executive Director of HR Kristen Ryan that it would be more helpful in the future to include percentages, too, to better show teacher exit trends.


Previous survey results for teachers showed a high level of disengagement.

Ryan pointed out that although the percentage of teachers who were “disengaged” with their jobs slightly increased this year, the percentage of “actively disengaged” respondents decreased since the last survey. The former increased by 7 percentage points this year, while the latter decreased by 5 percentage points.

Classified staff members — including custodians, paraeducators, food workers and more — participated in an EPIC survey last March, and results shared with the board in February showed they felt low engagement with their work.

Ryan said 40 classified and certified staff members have signed up to be part of a focus group aimed at problem-solving and creating next steps. The group’s first meeting is scheduled for May 30.

“I just want to say thank you not only to the team but to all of our certified and classified staff that took the time to take the survey,” Superintendent Anthony Lewis said. “The most important piece for us is what we do with that data, and to create these focus groups, I think, is a really critical opportunity to gather some additional, what we call, street data.”

The school board was not asked to take any action on HR’s report Monday. View the full report attached to the agenda item at this link.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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