Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Parent Survey results will be public (finally!)

I am so excited to report that the long-awaited results of the Parent/Guardian Survey which the District conducted last June will be available very soon. The reports are being presented to the Board at our meeting tomorrow night. After that, the school-by-school reports will be posted on the District website.

As a member of the Communications Committee, which was responsible for the creation and oversight of this survey, I can tell you -- we certainly did not intend to release these reports in December...a full six months since the survey was conducted! But now that we've gone through the entire process, I can say that we learned a lot about how to make the process better (and faster!) next time.

The reasons for the delay in reporting include:
-- Reduced staff in the MIS/IT Department, which was responsible for assembling the data and creating the survey reports
-- Additional (simultaneous) pressure on the IT Department due to the implementation of the new Skyward student information system. It was "all hands on deck" this Fall to get Skyward up and running!
-- No exact plan up front for the reports -- we elected to see how the data came in and let that information, in part, drive the format for the reports. In other words, we didn't exactly know up front how we wanted the results to be reported...we waited to see what made the most sense. I think this was great in terms of creating truly useful reports, but it was a more time-consuming approach.
-- The committee process for reviewing comments was a bit cumbersome. We wanted parents and staff involved in reading every single comment that was given. Before that could happen, comments which contained identifiable personnel or student information had to be redacted so that confidential information was not made public. Then, a committee (or group of smaller committees) met several times to read every comment and to summarize the themes which could be identified. This was on a school-by-school basis, so the comments will be more useful to parents and staff. After all that reading and sorting was complete, the reports had to be physically put together -- again, with a limited staff at the Ed Center.

Anyway, the results are done and it has been (and will continue to be) a truly fascinating and informative process. I hope every parent will download the survey results for his/her school and review them closely. Talk amongst yourselves. Talk to your teachers and principal. Talk to us. I think you'll find the data to be interesting, and the "free-form" comments are quite educational. For one thing, you'll see just how differently parents feel about certain issues. I find it fascinating (and sometimes frustrating) how some parents can have one opinion and others will have a 180-degree different opinion on the exact same topic.

I think parents and the community will also be interested in the level of honesty and passion -- both positive and negative -- in the parents' comments. It's not often that a school district is willing to share the good, bad and ugly. We'll all be experiencing this new exercise in introspection together and I hope we can use whatever we learn for positive growth.

I'll post a reminder when the survey reports are live on the District website.

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