Survey results capture DC teachers’ pandemic struggles, successes

More than 1,000 D.C. teachers took an online survey in late January and early February asking how they and their students have handled the pandemic, and the results are in.

Teachers from 185 schools shared their thoughts, including teachers from every D.C. public school and most of the city’s public charter schools.

Forty-three percent of respondents said the switch to virtual learning has been so difficult, they’ve considered leaving the teaching profession altogether.

“This statistic alone is very alarming, but there is more,” D.C. State Board of Education President Zachary Parker said at Wednesday night’s meeting.

According to the survey, teachers found students in Wards 7 and 8 were less engaged in virtual lessons than students in other wards.

More than three-quarters of teachers said their students have internet access that is either too slow or unreliable for virtual learning.

Some teachers – more than 360 – were asked how they would feel about returning to in-person learning. Seventy-five percent said they were slightly or very uncomfortable about it.

“I’d also note that the survey did find some promising and bright spots,” Parker said.

More than 85% of teachers said they’ve been collaborating regularly with others since virtual learning began, and the vast majority of respondents – 90% – said they’re comfortable using the technology needed for virtual classes.

The state board voted unanimously to adopt the report containing the survey results, which will be used to develop ways to better support and retain teachers.

On average, 25% of teachers in D.C. public schools and public charter schools leave those schools every year.

“Since 2018, the state board has sought to better understand teacher retention and its implications for District students and schools, and what policies could be implemented to help teachers stay and improve,” Parker said.

Here are some more results from the survey:

  • 55% of teachers said the social and emotional well-being of their students is worse in 2021 than it was in 2020;
  • Only 32% of teachers said they’ve been able to cover the same amount of content during virtual learning than they did in-person before the pandemic;
  • Most teachers believe at least 20 more minutes of teaching time is needed in science, social studies, the arts and social-emotional learning.

The state board will host an online discussion of the survey results from noon to 1 p.m. Thursday and take questions from the public. It will be held on Instagram Live.

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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