TELL Scores Tank In Montgomery Co

In early January 2014, former Montgomery County Board of Education chair Kenney Gulley praised fired superintendent Joshua Powell for TELL Survey scores:

Gulley notes the district has made great strides in recent years and that the school system’s focus remains on improving education for students.

“We have improved our academic ranking from 132nd to 29th in two years, achieved one of the highest gains in TELL survey results, received multiple KEA accolades, experienced significant job growth, maintained one of the lowest faculty to student ratios in the commonwealth and created new programs to serve our students, all despite a reduction in funding. We currently have the largest reserve fund in the district’s history, and we pride ourselves on being good stewards of the public’s money,” the letter to Edelen reads.

In January 2015, fired superintendent Joshua Powell sang his own praises in a bizarre eight-page letter to Commissioner of Education Terry Holliday:

As I approach my fourth year, the District ranks in the top 91st percentile, has received several accolades, and has a graduation rate in the top 95th percentile. Our district has a tax rate of approximately 10 cents less than the state average, we have added more than 61 jobs, have experienced extraordinarily high gains on the TELL survey, and have a 9.2 million reserve. We are implementing a 1:1 Chromebook initiative this month. We have six Chinese teachers employed in our district, regularly assess culture and morale at each school, and have been named as the only public school district in Kentucky’s 2014 Best Places to Work.

So would you be surprised to learn that Montgomery County TELL Survey results have spiraled down a rocky ravine into the river of awful this year?

From the Mt. Sterling Advocate:

Overall, teaching and learning conditions have improved statewide, according to results released recently from the Teaching, Empowering, Leading and Learning (TELL) Kentucky Survey.

Locally, however, the results fall below state averages for worker satisfaction.


District wide, 85 percent of local educators said their school is a good place to work and learn. That was slightly below the state average of 87.9 percent.

Also, slightly below the state average of 84.7 percent, 82.9 percent of local educators agreed that their school utilizes the results from the TELL Kentucky Survey “as a tool for school improvement.”


The only question in which Montgomery fell below state average was in the area of non-instructional time provided for teachers in their school being sufficient.



Montgomery County teachers had a response of less than the state average in eight of 10 categories.


[T]he district’s teachers scored the district well below average in maintaining a clean and well maintained school environment.


Teachers rated the district below state average on questions about community members support for teachers and contributing to their success with students and overall community members support their school.



The district’s educators rated teacher leadership below the state average in all seven categories.



The survey asked 20 questions about school leadership. Montgomery County’s scores fell below state averages in 18 of 20 questions.



The district’s teachers rated the district below state average in 10 of 14 categories.



Local teachers rated the district above state average in five of nine categories, below in three and the same in one.


The district fell below state averages on questions of whether state assessment data is available in time to impact instructional practices, teachers are encouraged to try new things to improve instruction and teachers have autonomy to make decisions about instructional delivery…

Not once did the paper mention that these TELL scores from the past year are a result of the “leadership” from Joshua Powell and his cohorts within his now-defunct administration.

This tumbling in the TELL Survey ranks could mean a lot of things: teachers were afraid to tell the truth about Joshua Powell and his merry band of educational marauders, previous scores were manipulated, previous responses were forced, only those with positive opinions were permitted to respond, incentives were provided for positive scores, et al.

But one thing is certain: life in Montgomery County Schools was not magical, despite the lovely picture people like Joshua Powell, Kenney Gulley and Phil Rison attempted to paint.