A voluntary survey of Kentucky teachers on the teaching conditions inside their schools got a large number of responses.  

“Kentucky is phenomenal,” says Ann Maddock, senior advisor in external affairs for New Teacher Center, the organizations that helped administer the TELL (Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning Working Conditions) survey.

The anonymous online survey was open for a four-week period in March and the Kentucky Department of Education provided incentives—including raffle drawings with cash prizes—for teachers to complete the survey.

Around 87 percent of teachers responded to the TELL Survey and more than 90 percent of Kentucky school districts will be able to use the data to improve their teachers’ working conditions. School districts needs at least a 50 percent response rate and a minimum of five teachers (for smaller districts) to be able to show and use the data.

North Carolina—which has used the survey since 2002—is the only other state ahead of Kentucky, but Maddock says the commonwealth is on pace to be the leader.

The Kentucky Board of Education will be releasing the results following a presentation by Maddock at Wednesday’s board meeting. The data will become public on and individuals can click on a specific school to find out what the teaching conditions are according to the teachers.

“These questions measure these teaching conditions. And these teaching conditions are associated with improved teacher retention and student achievement,” says Maddock.

When Kentucky teachers took their first TELL Survey in 2011, there was a teacher response rate of 80 percent, breaking the record for first time state-wide survey-takers, Maddock says.

The data was used immediately, she says.

Part of the reason is because there are numerous partners involved, including the Kentucky Department of Education, the Council on Postsecondary Education, the Jefferson County Teachers Association and Kentucky PTA. Out of the survey, the state created the Kentucky Teaching Conditions Standards, which set clear policies and practices that should be in place to maximize teacher effectiveness.

“This is a huge amount of data that’s being made available for public consumption. And it really helps to inform PTAs and school communities,” Maddock says.

The voluntary survey is taken every two years and New Teacher Center works with states to make changes following the results.