Facilities Operations Fared Worst in Most Recent School Climate Survey

Today is the last day to take the 2015 School Climate Survey. Parents received an email in June from the Department of Research and Evaluation with an invitation to participate in the survey and an individualized survey code. Parents cannot take the survey without the code, but students may use their student identification numbers and access the survey here.

The most recent survey, given in 2013, paints a picture of stakeholders’ satisfaction in several areas (called “subscales” in the analysis) such as relevant curriculum, safety and discipline, effective teaching, and amount of parental involvement that affect their schools’ overall climate. According to the Department of Research and Evaluation, as of 2013 a “substantial majority of the district’s key stakeholder groups has a positive perception of their schools’ climate.”

Source: PGCPS Dept. of Research and Evaluation, 2013

Source: PGCPS Dept. of Research and Evaluation, 2013

For students, “Effective Plant Operations” (i.e. facilities and equipment) was the area that was least favorably perceived, with only about half expressing a positive perception. (For example, at Greenbelt Elementary School, the single survey item that had the smallest percentage of favorable responses at 23.4% was, “The bathroom at my school is clean.”) In contrast, parents in the district, who spend less time in school buildings, had a much more favorable view of facilities, with 83% expressing a positive perception. About 64% of teachers expressed a positive perception.

Another sharp contrast between groups of respondents was apparent in the perceptions of parental involvement. A full 97% of parents had a positive perception of parental involvement. For teachers, parental involvement was the lowest rated subscale, with only 52% of teachers expressing a positive perception.

In addition to the analysis of the district-wide survey results, the Department of Research and Evaluation provides school-level data briefs, which are rich in data. (Due to a quirk of technology, the school-level data can only be seen using the Internet Explorer browser.) At the school level, response results to specific questions are released. But district-wide, this is not the case. Responses for subscale categories (e.g. Effective Teaching, Plant Operations) are analyzed, but specific survey item responses are not shared with the public. Arguably, this makes for a much less meaningful discussion of the data.

A look at the school-level data reveals that no items addressing heating and cooling of buildings were included in the 2013 survey. However, anecdotal evidence suggests that this is a concern for many stakeholders (for example, see one parent’s testimony at the June 25 Board of Education meeting at 1:02:54 in the video). It will be interesting to see whether future survey designs explore this area of concern, perhaps more effectively capturing stakeholders’ perceptions of plant operations.

Read more at the Department of Research and Evaluation.

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