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Survey shows district getting better at parent involvement

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Moving Forward

By Keith Davis

  Very often, the reason that news is news is because it is bad or controversial. 

Reporting on how many government officials effectively completed their job, how many business people didn’t cheat their investors, or how many politicians did what they felt was right for the public wouldn’t be very exciting. 

This is good, because when people doing the right things become unusual, our society will really have problems.  That said, we in Bullitt County are very fortunate to have local news media that serve the community by often reporting on the exceptionally good things that are going on in our schools. 

The news I want to share with you in this report is important because it shows what the families of our students think about the education their child is receiving.

 For the past four years, each of our schools has asked parents, teachers, and students to complete a survey to measure their perceptions of how their school operates. 

There are 31 questions on the parent survey and parents are asked to agree or disagree with statements like “I feel welcome at the school,” “The school’s primary emphasis is on student learning,”  “All students are expected to meet high standards,” and “Teachers do whatever it takes to help my child meet high academic standards.” 

 The results of this survey indicate that our parents are, overall, highly satisfied with their children’s school. 

Areas of Strength:

*96% support the goals of the school, have a clear understanding of what the school is trying to accomplish, and agree that the primary emphasis is on student learning

*95% agreed that all students are expected to meet high standards

*94% agree that classes challenge students to think and solve problems

*97% agree that their child feels safe at school

*96% agree that schoolwork is meaningful and made relevant

*96% of those expressing an opinion agreed that teachers do whatever it takes to help my child meet high academic standards

Areas of Concern:

*5.3% did not agree that students receive detailed information about the quality of work they do

*6.2% did not agree that teachers make adjustments to meet individual student’s needs

*5.8% did not agree that school staff listen carefully when parents express opinions and concerns

*9.7% did not agree that the school contacts the families of students who are struggling academically

The overall results of this survey are very encouraging. 

It reinforces my expressed belief that we can be proud of an outstanding teaching staff in each of our local schools.   Like any large organization, there are a few that tarnish the reputation of the many. 

We are working on these – though you may recall from news reports that dismissing tenured employees from a public school is a very difficult, uncertain, and expensive undertaking even when there is a clear issue. 

It is even more uncertain when the matter hinges on things – like instructional effectiveness - that some could consider opinion. 

Still, we will continue to work on the areas of concern through training and individual interventions with our teachers who struggle in this area.  We suspect that part of the problem regarding the areas of concern relates to communication and this is almost exclusively a function of letting parents know everything that is available to keep them connected.

As a busy parent, I know how difficult it is to stay abreast of what is going on in the schools.  We get weekly newsletters from children’s teachers, we get calls, texts, and e-mails from the mass notification system, and a weekly e-newsletter from the principals most weeks.  I also browse the school web site and often look at the teachers’ lesson plans which are posted on their own web sites accessible from the school site (which are all accessible from ). 

In addition to that, I have access as a parent (as do all parents) to the Parent Portal.  Through this portal, I can look at my children’s grades, check for missing assignments, and make sure they really went to school.  When one of them is sick, the school calls and asks if they are home and reminds me to send a note.  Every night, I am asked by the teachers to review and initial the student planner to see what happened in class that day and they send graded work home once or twice each week for our review.  Also, we get written mid-term progress reports and a report card every nine weeks. 

The teachers all have e-mail addresses listed on their web sites, as do the principals, and all administration. 

Finally, several schools are conducting home visits where the teachers are going to the homes of their students and meeting their families, and every school has a plan for positive parent contacts through phone calls or post cards. 

 The reason I mention all of this is because I believe we have to have parents involved and supportive if we are going to achieve BCPS’s vision of becoming the leader in educational excellence.  All students need parents or others who watch out for them and help keep them on track. 

We require a great deal from the teachers in our schools, but we recognize that the most important teacher most children will ever have is also the first – the parents. 

Fortunately, according to our survey results, we have a great number of parents who are just what their kids need.