By Stefanie Jackson – Northampton County Public Schools has released the results of its annual school survey, which suggests that the school environment for its students and teachers is on par with other Virginia school divisions, with a few exceptions such as student economic disadvantages and teacher job retention.
The Virginia School Survey is administered by the Virginia Department of Education and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services with assistance from the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech.
Northampton is a small school division with an average of 353 students at each school compared to a state average of 674 students per school.
Northampton schools serve a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students – 79% compared to an average of 44% across the state.
(VDOE defines an economically disadvantaged student as one who qualifies for free or reduced lunch or Medicaid or receives Temporary Assistance for Needy Families).
About 15% of Northampton students receive special education services compared to the state average of 14%, and nearly 9% of Northampton students are English learners compared to the state average of about 8%.
The 2021 Virginia School Survey was taken by 137 Northampton students in sixth to eighth grade, 125 teachers, and 26 non-teaching staff members.
Participants answered most questions on a numbered scale, with 1 representing the most disagreement or negative impression and the highest number representing the most agreement or positive impression. (Average scores have been rounded to the nearest tenth.)
On a scale of 1 to 4, Northampton students gave a 2.6 rating to their level of comfort with both remote learning due to COVID-19-related school closures and reopening of schools following those closures. The statewide average ratings were 2.5 for remote learning and 2.8 for reopening.
On a scale of 1 to 6, Northampton teachers gave a 4.6 rating to their level of comfort in returning to school after COVID-19-related closures, compared to a state average of 3.5.
When Northampton teachers were asked how much working conditions worsened or improved over the last two years on a scale of 1 to 5, Northampton received a score of 3.4, slightly higher than the state average of 3.2.
However, when Northampton teachers were asked about their immediate professional plans, only 74% said they would continue teaching at their current school compared to 84% of all Virginia teachers surveyed.
Nearly 10% of the participating Northampton teachers said they would teach in a different Virginia school division compared to less than 3% of all teachers surveyed.
Nearly 6% of Northampton teachers wanted to teach in a different state, but a little more than 1% of all teachers surveyed said the same.
There did not appear to be a strong correlation between Northampton teachers wanting to leave the school division and how they felt about about their work environment.
All the following ratings are on a scale of 1 to 6.
Northampton teachers gave a 4.6 rating to the statement, “I feel respected by school’s administrators.” The statewide average rating was about 5.
Under the category of managing student behavior, Northampton teachers gave a 4.5 rating to the statement that “adults understand the rules for student behavior.” The statewide average rating was 4.7.
Northampton teachers gave a 4.7 rating to the statement, “I have adequate space to work productively.” The statewide average rating was 4.9.
They rated the statement that “bullying is a problem at this school” 2.9, compared to an average rating of 2.8.
Northampton teachers gave a 4.9 rating to the statement, “I feel safe at this school,” compared to an average rating of 5.2.
The Virginia School Survey results can be used by school divisions to identify school improvement goals, evaluate improvement efforts since the previous survey, and document needs for school safety and support programs.