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What makes a positive school culture?

Assuring that all children are educated in a positive school environment, giving them the best chance to succeed in life, should be our top priority. So what makes for a positive school environment?

Last month, Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) Superintendent, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, held the School Culture Symposium where he discussed the results of a research-based, nationally recognized set of surveys. The surveys captured five areas that have a key impact on the culture we create in our public schools:

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A few key findings stand out:  

  • On average, Duval County teachers were more likely than the national average to report that they “shared a common vision with other teachers, that their school provided clear expectations, and that their school is committed to their improvement.”

  • DCPS teachers feel valued by their leaders, mainly because they are receiving positive feedback regularly and are being encouraged to return to the school the upcoming year.

  • Teachers and leaders are embracing the training and assessments that align with the new Florida Standards.

  • QEA schools in outperformed DCPS and national average on most of the student engagement indicators.

  • Over the past 3 year, there has been a 41 percent increase in parent participation.

These accolades and more have led to national recognition of Duval County’s school system. DCPS received an Honorable Mention from the National Council on Teacher Quality’s initiative called “Great Districts for Great Teachers.” Districts are judged on: (1) professional compensation structure; (2) professional support; (3) effective management and operations; (4) career pathways and leadership opportunities; and (5) adequate support services for students. Of those five areas, DCPS was lowest in career and leadership pathways.

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However, we are, in many ways, living up to our obligations to Jacksonville’s children and our city by acting together.

The Jacksonville Public Education Fund’s 2016 - 2017 Annual Public Education Perceptions Poll, which measures the general community’s perceptions about public education, showed that parents do have positive perceptions of the leadership, teachers and schools here in Duval County. View the interactive data here.

Through efforts such as the Teacher Roundtable series, the Jacksonville Public Education Fund gathered local public school teachers to discuss Teacher Leadership and provide their feedback to the superintendent. When teachers, leaders, community members and other entities work together, we can make good things happen!

Jacksonville Public Education Fund also believes that the work around public education should be centered around students. Through our Student Voice initiative, we aimed to elevate student voices to the center of decision-making conversations. This campaign has started to gain momentum in schools and the broader community and will culminate in a celebration of the results at the ONE by ONE Convention: Students at the Center of the Conversation on May 6 at the Omni Hotel. We will equip attendees the event with the ability to continue engaging students through Student Voice. The event is free and open to the public, however space is limited. Don’t miss your chance to be part of the movement to improve our schools, and register today.