School surveys hit mailboxes, backpacks |

School surveys hit mailboxes, backpacks

Cindy Ramunno

EAGLE COUNTY – If you have a student enrolled in one of Eagle County schools’ 16 facilities, now is your chance to tell school officials what you think.A comprehensive parent survey was mailed to all secondary parents and sent home with all elementary students this week. “As we said in our introduction letter, Eagle County Schools believes that our classrooms are most effective when our communities are actively involved in the lives of students,” said Pam Boyd, communications coordinator. “We value public input and we believe hearing from our parents will help us achieve our mission of educating every student for success.”For some parents, this survey will look familiar. Last fall, the district presented the questionnaire as an online survey during parent-teacher conferences. “Frankly, we had a couple of issues that convinced us to try again with a paper survey,” Boyd said. “First, we simply didn’t get as much response as we needed. Part of the reason for that was the online survey wasn’t offered in Spanish.”Roughly 35 percent of Eagle County schools’ families are native Spanish speakers, Boyd said. “To reach these parents, we had the survey translated and we then tried our best to send the appropriate translation to the appropriate households,” she said. Confidentiality assured”When they fill out a survey, people understandably want assurance that their responses will be kept confidential,” Boyd said. “We want to assure everyone that the district has no way of tracking who filled out surveys.The survey does not ask for personal information, such as names, addresses phone numbers, social security number or student identification numbers. There are some household information questions – for instance, parents will be asked how many of their children attend Eagle County Schools and what is the primary language spoken in their homes – but that information, Body said, is only for demographic purposes.Once the surveys are completed, the forms will be sent to Education for the Future, a nonprofit based in California, where they will be scanned and the information will be compiled. Students, staff sound offThe district’s parent survey is a “school climate” questionnaire developed by Education for the Future. The parent surveys dovetail with surveys taken by staff and students meant to help schools identify perceptions about their strengths and weakness, and proceed with efforts to improve programs, Boyd said. “Understanding parent, staff and student perceptions about our schools is important because people act according to what they believe. As a school district, we need to have a clear idea about public perception so we can improve our programs,” Boyd said.Both the staff and student surveys will be conducted online before the last day of the current term, May 25. To complete the survey, a student or staff member will go to a specified web address and the survey will appear on the computer screen. The questionnaire takes about five to 10 minutes to complete and there is space for comments.The district anticipates surveying all students in third grade through 12th grade. “In third grade, students must participate in the Colorado Student Assessment Program reading exam. We figure if that’s the age when kids are tested, it’s a great starting point to survey them,” Boyd said. “There is also a survey available for younger kids and we will make that instrument available for teachers who are interested in using it.”For additional information about the parent/student survey project, contact Eagle County Schools at 328-1923.Vail, Colorado

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