By Angela Parker, League of Education Voters Policy Analyst
Principals are some of the busiest people in a school building. Rarely out of range of their walkie talkies, principals take responsibility for in-the-minute decisions about crises both large and small. At the same time, they must also craft long term strategic plans in the context of a rapidly changing school ecosystem. As principals often serve as one of the key lynchpins of policy implementation, we knew we needed to get a better sense of how they understand the current and emergent needs within Washington’s K-12 system.
We surveyed principals in Washington state to better understand what new and emerging issues their schools and communities are facing. In December, we sent a survey request to 2,034 principals in Washington; 180 returned our survey, giving these results a 95% confidence level with a 7% margin of error. Although elementary principals are slightly underrepresented in our survey, the overall proportions are not widely divergent from statewide proportions. Our survey also over represents smaller schools, those with 100 to 499 students, and larger districts, but does represent strong geographic diversity.
Aside from demographic details, our survey was limited to three main questions:
- How urgent are issues such as achievement/opportunity gaps, student supports, teacher supply, college readiness, etc. in your school?
- What new or different educational issues is your school experiencing?
- What should we be working on in the next legislative session?
This post summarizes our broad findings from the survey, and we commit to working on these issues with principals and educators across Washington.