Survey: School Principals Under Pressure

Principals cite funding cuts as top issue; mobile technology as top improvement in learning environment

Sweet Springs, Missouri – November 28, 2011 – More than 80% of U.S. K-12 public school principals say that it is somewhat more difficult (57.7%) or much more difficult (26.8%) to provide an effective educational experience than in recent years, according to a national survey conducted by MCH Strategic Data, and The survey of 529 public school principals was designed to identify the biggest challenges and advancements in America’s public school system.

Educational Environment
The survey indicates that principals find it difficult to provide an effective educational experience based on the following two critical factors:

  • A lack in funding was a key issue was cited by a majority of respondents. Decreased funding from all levels of government was highlighted, including state funding (87%), federal funding (72%), and local funding (69%).
  • Another key issue reported in providing an effective educational environment was parent involvement (52%).

On the bright side, 44.6% of principals cited teacher competency as the most positive contributing factor in providing an effective educational learning environment at their school. The next highest positive score was parent involvement (17%).

Teacher Morale
Although teacher competency was reported to be a positive factor, more than 52% of the principals surveyed reported that teacher morale is somewhat worse or much worse than last year. Respondents attributed low morale to a variety of factors, including increased class sizes, salary freezes or cuts, and increased pressure to improve students’ performance on state testing. Some principals offered disclaimers accompanying the morale ranking. “Despite budget cuts and lack of respect from state officials, parents, and community members, teachers maintain their desire to do their best for their students,” one principal responded.

Technology Advancements
More than half of principals identified two technology-related trends that were having a positive impact on the learning environment: mobile technology, such as tablet computers, at 58%, and online professional collaboration tools at 52%.

Principals offered enthusiastic comments about technology, such as, “Technology carts in our classroom and smart boards are positive!” and “We don’t have many mobile tech devices, but the ones we have are very positive.”

Economic Conditions
Funding decreases are contributing to the pressure schools are facing to do more with less. Of the principals surveyed, 83% reported that overall funding has decreased in the past year versus 3% reporting an increase in funding. The decrease in funding was segmented by government level and the respondents reported:

  • 87% state funding decreases
  • 75% federal funding decreases
  • 66% local funding decreases

Unfortunately, the reduction in funding is occurring at the same time that 70% of principals are reporting stable (29%) or growing (41%) enrollments. When provided with five choices for schools most critical needs, the number one selection by respondents was more classrooms.

Principals reported that the reduced funding for the current school year has translated into the following actions:

  • Reduced curriculum spending (68%)
  • Reduced non-certified staff (61%)
  • Reduced certified staff (59%)

Looking into the future, 81% of principals anticipate overall funding to decrease next year. They expect a reduction in state funding to be the worst at 81%, followed by reduced federal funding at 72%, and reduced local funding at 59%.

Public school principals were contacted by email and invited to participate in the online survey. Most respondents (62.2%) have 10 or more years of experience in school administration, and 27.4% have served at their current school for a decade or more.

About MCH Strategic Data
MCH Strategic Data (, founded in 1928, is the new compiler of the QED Education Database, a comprehensive K-12 marketing database solution; as well as the new owner of Wilson Marketing Group, a market research firm specializing in the early childhood market. MCH provides email, direct mail, telemarketing, and social media marketing solutions focused on more than 5 million K-12 educators. The company’s business-to-institution focus also includes government agencies, hospitals, medical practices, schools, school districts, and churches. MCH is headquartered in Sweet Springs, Missouri, with additional offices in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, and Missouri.

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