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School District Parent Survey Participation Off 70 Percent

Aug 25, 2015 12:04AM ● Published by Steven Jack

School District 308 board members are questioning the usefulness of results of the district's latest parent satisfaction survey after it was revealed Monday that participation was down about 70 percent from the same survey given in 2012. 

In all, about 1,800 fewer parents filled out the latest survey, which was distributed last winter. What was behind that lack of participation was a matter for debate among board members at their monthly work session meeting Monday night.

"What concerns me is that as we move forward on some of these things is that we have such a small sample size," said board member Jared Ploger. 

Indeed, survey results show that many schools suffered from a severe lack of parent participation with seven district schools having 30 or fewer surveys returned. 

"With less than 30 responses for these locations we cannot say that there is a statistically significant sample size. Therefore, results should be considered anecdotal for those locations," reads the survey summary provided by Orlando-based Nation Center for School Leadership.

Board member Lauri Doyle agreed.

"These results don't feel like they represent our district in its entirety," she said. 

On the contrary, Board member Danille Paul wondered if the lack of participation signaled good news from the district. 

"Part of me wants to know that if participation is down because people don't have as much to complain about," she said. 

Board members questioned whether adequate efforts were made in the distribution of the survey with Ploger urging the district to become more creative in its distribution methods. 

Board member Mike McDowell said he felt the survey was widely available to parents; however, he questioned a lack of parent engagement.

"You can lead a horse to water, but let's be realistic," he said. 

Survey results

As for the results of the survey, the district lost ground on nearly every dimension of parent engagement and satisfaction with results at or below national averages. 

The biggest drop in parent satisfaction came in the monitoring student progress category in which parents were asked if they were regularly informed of their student's academic progress. 

Parents in 2012 scored that question an average of 3.86 on a 5-point Likert scale (i.e., Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree). In 2015 that question received 3.73.

Respondents also were less pleased with communication in the district with a 2012 average of 4.04 dropping to 3.96 in 2015. 

Overall parents gave favorable ratings to questions regarding: school facilities, student responsibility and staff courteousness and helpfulness.

An often unpopular topic among parents — homework — received "significantly" lower favorable responses than the national average with just 67 percent of parents saying their child receives an appropriate amount of homework. A question regarding the appropriate level of difficulty of homework had a favorable percentage response of 68 percent, which is down 3 percent form the 2012 survey.

When asked by School Board President Matt Bauman if the administration had taken action on any of the survey results since they were made available to the district in April, Superintendent Matthew Wendt said discussions had started with individual building principals on some of the results.

To view full survey results, including school-by-school analysis, click here.  

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