Insightrix® Research Services was contracted to collect parent perception data. Between April 18 and April 30, 2006, data were collected from a statistically representative random sample of 376 parents. The overall margin of error for the statistics cited in this report is 95% with a confidence level of ±5%. This means that we can be sure that the results are within 5% of the views of the total population of parents 19 times out of 20. Parents were asked to rate their level of agreement with 17 statements based on specific aspects of learning community capacity on a scale of one to four, where “1” is strongly disagree, “2” is disagree, “3” is agree, and “4” is strongly agree. The results for each statement are as follows:
The environment at my child’s school is respectful and caring.
All members of a learning community value and respect each other. Overall, 92.3% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that the environment at their child’s school is respectful and caring, while only 7.1% disagreed or strongly disagreed. In 2003-2004, approximately 82% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with this statement. These results point to a considerable improvement with respect to this aspect of learning community capacity.
At my child’s school, the relationships between students and staff are positive and supportive.
The nature of the relationships among stakeholders in the school community has a direct impact on learning community capacity. In total, 90.4% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that the relationships between students and staff are positive and supportive, 8.5% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Students’ ideas and opinions are valued at my child’s school.
A learning community is inclusive and values the views and opinions of all members of that community. In general, 87% of parents stated that they agreed or strongly agreed that students’ ideas and opinions are valued at their child’s school, while 9.6% disagreed or strongly disagreed and another 3.5% indicated that they did not know.
As a parent, I feel welcome at the school.
Learning community and school effectiveness research has found that student achievement is highest when parents are welcomed into the school community as partners in their children’s education. Ninety-four percent of parents felt welcome at their child’s school, while only 5.1% indicated that they did not feel welcome at the school. In 2004, a similar percentage (93%) of parents agreed that they felt welcome at their child’s school. It is beyond the scope of this report to examine the relationship among parents’ feelings of being welcome in the school, their involvement with their children’s education at the school, and student achievement. However, this finding suggests that our schools’ climates are sufficiently welcoming to allow these relationships to be positive.
My child feels safe at school.
Children learn best when they feel safe and secure within the school community. Eighty-nine percent of parents agreed or strongly agreed that their child feels safe at his/her school, while 10.7% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Previously, 80% of parents surveyed indicated that their child felt safe. These results are encouraging. Despite occasional media reports to the contrary, these data suggest that it is a widely-held view among parents that their children’s schools are safe places of learning.
In general, my child has a positive attitude toward attending his/her school.
Children’s attitudes toward their school are a good indicator of the extent to which learning community capacity has been developed. 89.1% of parents opined that their child has a positive attitude toward attending his/her school, while 10.9% felt the opposite. In 2003-2004, 86% of parents agreed with this statement.
The discipline in my child’s school is appropriate and fair.
While there must be consequences when members of a learning community do not follow the social norms set by that community, the consequences must nevertheless be seen as fair. In total, 77.4% perceived that the discipline in their child’s school is appropriate and fair, 15.9% disagreed or strongly disagreed with this statement, while 6.6% indicated that they were not sure. It is not possible to ascertain whether parents believe that consequences are either too severe or not severe enough. These findings do suggest, however, that parents may require further information regarding discipline policies in our schools or that discipline policies may require some revision (or both).
My child is developing the skills and knowledge that will be necessary for success once he/she completes K-12 education.
The objective of a school learning community is to encourage all members to be life-long learners. The school, as the primary vehicle of formal education, has the responsibility to help children build the foundation upon which they can continue to learn and grow. A majority of parents (84.8%) surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that their child is developing the skills and knowledge that will be necessary for success once he/she completes K-12 education, while 13.1% did not agree. This aspect of parent perception saw a very substantial improvement over the 2003-2004 survey when approximately 68% of respondents agreed with this statement.
My child is developing (or has developed) a satisfactory level of reading.
Because the Board has selected early learning and literacy as one of its priorities, this question was included in this survey. The ability to read is one of the most important building blocks of success in all aspects of one’s life. Most parents (86.4%) felt that their child is developing or has developed a satisfactory level of reading, 12.8% believed that the opposite was true. In 2003-2004, a similar percentage of parents (84%) agreed with this statement.
My child’s school provides an appropriate range of academic programs and activities.
In order to foster the love of learning, a school learning community must assess students’ learning and social needs and provide a set of opportunities to learn that address students’ needs. Approximately 90% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that their child’s school provides an appropriate range of academic programs and activities, while just over 9% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
My child’s school provides an appropriate range of non-academic programs and activities.
Learning communities value the education of the whole person; thus, they provide members with opportunities to learn beyond the academic realm. In general, 80% of the responding parents believed that their child’s school provides an appropriate range of non-academic programs and activities, another 15.5% did not agree with this statement, and 4.8% did not know.
The academic assessment/evaluation of my child is appropriate and fair.
Because all members of learning communities are seen as learners, each must be provided with feedback related to their learning progress. Overall, 88.1% opined that their child was receiving appropriate and fair assessment/evaluation and 10.6% did not agree with this statement. There has been little change in this aspect of parent opinion as compared to the previous survey when 86% agreed with this statement.
I receive adequate feedback regarding my child’s academic progress.
In order to support student learning, parents must have adequate information regarding their children’s progress. Over three-quarters (84%) of parents agreed or strongly agreed that they receive adequate feedback regarding their child’s progress while the remaining parents (16%) disagreed or strongly disagreed. A similar percentage of parents (81%) agreed with this statement in 2004 suggesting that we are continuing to be successful in fostering the home-school relationship by providing parents with information that enhances the parents’ roles as true partners in SPS’s learning community.
SPS makes decisions that encourage growth and innovation.
In order to inspire learning, a learning community’s decision making must create the conditions for effective learning. 79% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that SPS makes decisions that encourage growth and innovation. Another 13.3% disagreed or strongly disagreed while 7.7% did not know. In 2004, 73% of parents felt that SPS made decisions that encouraged growth and innovation. These results show a modest improvement from 2004 to 2006 and may suggest that we are either making better decisions or are finding better ways to communicate about our decisions to parents.
SPS makes responsible financial decisions.
A learning community manages its resources well. This year, just over half (54.5%) agreed or strongly agreed with this statement, 21.8% disagreed or strongly disagreed and the remaining 23.7% did not know; while approximately 40% agreed or strongly agreed in 2003-2004. During focus group meetings over the last few years, we have found that, when stakeholders are provided with detailed financial information, they tend to have a more positive view of the quality of financial decisions made by the Board and administration. Perhaps our continued efforts to communicate more effectively with our stakeholders will improve this result over time.
Overall, parents have the appropriate level of input and involvement in SPS.
In a learning community, parents are seen as co-learners and partners in their children’s education. Approximately 4 out of 5 parents (79%) agreed or strongly agreed that parents have the appropriate level of input and involvement in SPS and 17% disagreed or strongly disagreed.
Overall, I am satisfied with the education my child receives in SPS.
Approximately 90% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the education their child receives while approximately 10% were not satisfied. While there may not be a direct correlation between the extent to which stakeholders are satisfied with the organization and the extent to which a learning community exists in that organization, these results suggest that the conditions exist to permit our learning community to grow and flourish.
Approximately one-third (129) of parents responded to the survey’s open-ended question: “Do you have any comments about these questions or about things not raised in these questions?” The comments were wide-ranging making it difficult to identify emergent themes. However, from the comments made, there appeared to be two identifiable themes: a) curriculum and instruction and b) facilities. The fact that these themes emerged is encouraging considering that they relate, in part, to the Board’s two priorities: Literacy for Life and Facilities for Learning.
Parents’ comments related to curriculum and instruction followed such topics as:
- Student literacy growth particularly in relation to reading and the positive impact of powerful instructional strategies such as PWIM,
- Homework and classroom assignments required of students (split evenly between those who wished to see their children do more challenging work and those who felt that their children were required to complete too much homework), and
- Particular curricular areas that, in their opinion, required more attention (i.e., French Immersion, fine arts, physical education, special education, etc.).
Parents’ comments related to facilities followed such topics as:
- Facility renovation suggestions (i.e., lunch room/cafeteria improvements, gymnasium expansions and/or renovations, better access for students with special needs, etc.), and
- Maintenance items that require further attention (i.e., painting, carpets and flooring, water fountains, etc.).