Survey Says: Compared to Other Districts, Saline Parents, Teachers and Students Think Highly of The Schools

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 03/02/2019 - 16:54
Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden reviews the School Quality and Climate Survey with the Board of Education Tuesday,

Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden presented the results of the yearly School Quality and Climate Survey to the Board of Education in a 37-page report containing statistical data on a broad range of assessment categories.

Parents, students and staff are asked yearly to answer questions pertaining to the level of academic and student support in the district, school leadership, and family engagement. Other topics include safety and behavior, school operations, and district operations.

While the survey results have many positive indicators, such as the fact that 97 percent of parents, 96 percent of staff, and 83 percent of students rate their school as "excellent" or "good," there are a number of areas where one or more groups of surveyed individuals collectively expressed less-than-stellar assessment.

"There are definitely some areas of improvement that we could be looking at," Graden said.

One area within the academic support category found that 57 percent of students thought that students give timely feedback on student work, while 66 percent feel that the feedback is helpful and 34 percent believe Saline teachers are successful in showing their students how lessons learned in the classroom relate to life outside of school. Parents turned in their lowest percentage score for the category for that last question as well.

Graden said his administration will figure out a way to encourage teachers to respond positively to feedback in order to improve the student population's experience in those areas. He also hopes any improvement in teaching practices will move the needle upward on the 2018-19 school year survey.

Students and parents rated the district's busing system highly, with 77 percent of students reporting the district's buses are safe and 88 percent reported buses are on time. Parents reported 90 percent for safety and 93 percent for punctuality respectively.

Respondents across the board gave Saline schools lower marks for equality.

Student respondents reported at a rate of 61 percent that they're treated unfairly based on race. Sexual orientation was also high with 64 percent of students reporting it as a reason that students are treated unfairly. Gender and disabilities were also highly rated by students at 61 and 60 percent, respectively.

The survey also indicated a lower level of familiarity with the Learner Profile Compass than district administrators and board members would have liked, with only a third of students surveyed reporting at least some familiarity with the concept.

Compass consists of the 4 Cs including communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. District staff have set a goal to ensure Saline students graduate with these four "primary" skills fully developed.

While there is room for improvement in several areas, Graden said the Saline should be proud of the survey results.

"I will tell you this is significantly higher than the national average ... we're 10 to 15 percent higher in various categories than some other communities," he said.

There was some discussion between Graden and the board about how to survey would be administered to students for the 2018-19 school year survey, which will begin next month.

While the number of responding parents and district staff members has remainder overall steady over the past three years, the student participation has declined from 1,054 in 2015-16 to 638 in 2017-18.

Three years ago students had the survey administered to them during school hours, while the survey was mailed to them to finish in their free time outside of school the past couple of years.

Graden said he still feels good about the survey participation rate and believes that it's still at a level that makes the survey results statistically relevant.

He encouraged the community to collectively respond to the next year's survey in greater numbers, as his administrative time will be looking to the results to consider proposed policy and practice decisions in the future.


Sean Dalton's picture
Sean Dalton
Sean Dalton is a veteran of the Washtenaw County journalism scene. He co-founded and and also worked for Heritage Newspapers.