How was school today?
Vail CO, Colorado
EAGLE COUNTY ” Students feel respected by their teachers, but have a harder time finding kindness from their classmates, according to a survey completed last spring by hundreds of Eagle County students and parents.
The survey, which rounded up 1,652 students and 740 parents, asked participants to rank all aspects of school life, from the difficulty of class to safety to the effectiveness of teachers and principals.
For the most part, parents and students are pleased with how the schools here are run. About 80 percent of parents say they either agree or strongly agree the school district is “going in the right direction.”
Elsewhere, results show how elementary students, middle-schoolers and high school kids actually view a day of school.
The younger kids, for instance, gave highest scores to their teachers and their lowest scores to their peers.
Elementary kids overwhelmingly agree with statements like “My teacher treats me with respect” and “My teacher cares about me,” but gave their lowest rankings to statements like “Students at my school treat me with respect” and “Students at my school are friendly.”
Middle-schoolers and their parents also saw problems in how students are getting along. This area has been the lowest scoring section on the survey the past few years.
“We really need to delve into how these students are treating one another,” said Brooke Skjonsby, director of communications for the school district. “That can really impact a learning environment.”
Last year, just 54 high school students took the survey ” this year, 881 took it.
They’re asked different types of questions than the elementary and middle school kids, questions more reflective of their school day.
Results show that school is very important to the students, and that they are making an effort to succeed. The phrases “Doing well in school makes me feel good about myself” and “I am doing my best” scored the highest on the survey.
On the other hand, school can be a drag. “School is fun,” “I find what I learn in school to be relevant to real life,” and “I feel that I am in charge of what I learn” scored lowest on the survey.
So, students like doing well in school and feel better when they succeed, but many students have a hard time seeing how it all matters.
Very few high school parents took the survey, but more are participating than in previous years, and parents were much more positive this time around.
As in previous years, students feel as if they’re treated fairly by school staff, and parents respect the teachers and principals. Big improvements were made in how parents feel about the amount of supervision kids have at school and how much direction teachers give parents on how to help at home.
High school parents also gave higher ratings than in the past on how well schools are preparing their children for the future.
The survey pointed out several other tidbits worth noting.
Overall, rankings dropped slightly in most areas. The younger the student, the more content they seem. Middle school students gave lower rankings than elementary students, and high school students showed the most disapproval.
Students at all levels indicated they felt safe at school.
Parents and students in many ways seem content with academic standards. Phrases like “Very good work is expected at my school” received high marks at elementary and middle schools, but students gave lower rankings to the phrase “I feel challenged by the work my teacher asks me to do.”
While most parents did agree that the school district is headed in the right direction, about 14 percent of parents felt “neutral” to the question, and around 6 percent said they don’t believe the schools are headed in the right direction.
The survey says a lot, but it’s not a perfect representation of the district, Skjonsby said.
The surveys weren’t a “random” sampling, meaning only those wishing to take the survey actually finished them.
Also, there was spotty participation among the schools. The middle school results for instance are mostly from Eagle Valley Middle School and Gypsum Creek Middle School, without much input from Minturn Middle and Berry Creek Middle. Elementary schools like Red Sandstone and Eagle Valley Elementary didn’t have near as many responses as Gypsum Elementary and Edwards Elementary had.
Still, the district is taking the results seriously, especially when viewed as a snapshot or overall impression of how kids and parents feel.
Skjonsby said she’ll be meeting with school principals to go over individual school results and determine how to fix some of the problem areas, like how students are getting along.
“If students aren’t having fun or enjoying their experience, that’s something schools should know,” Skjonsby said.
Staff Writer Matt Terrell can be reached at 970-748-2955 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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