Schools work to improve parent, teacher communication

By Jane Krogman

Over the last two years, we have worked to establish baseline data and to increase the communication among students, parents, teachers, and administration at MCHS. To measure our goal progress, we have implemented two surveys -- the Comprehensive Assess-ment of School Environments (CASE) survey and the ACT one and five year graduate follow-up survey. With both surveys, we are able to compare one year to another as well as ourselves to the national norm or standard score.

All students, parents, and teachers/staff were given an opportunity in Spring '02 and Spring '03 to complete and return a standardized 55 question CASE survey. In 2001-2002, 209 students, 44 teachers, and 19 parents responded. Significant increases in parent and student responses were achieved in 2002-2003 thanks to the help of the Parent Accountability Committee members who assisted with the administration of the survey, with 322 students, 45 teachers, and 157 parents responding to the survey.

Questions are separated into ten general categories: Teacher-Student Relationships, Security and Maintenance, Administration, Student Academic Orientation, Student Behavioral Values, Guidance, Student-Peer Relationships, Parent-School-Community Relations, Instructional Management, and Student Activities.

Areas are "average" if within the standard scores of 40-60. Those areas with scores above 60 are considered above national average or areas for celebration. Those areas with scores below 40 are considered below national average or areas for growth and improvement.

General findings include the following:

  • All of the nine categories measured are within (40-60) or below (<40) the national average with Student-Peer Relationships recognized as below the national average by all three participant categories.
  • Significant growth is shown by all three participant categories in

- Security and Maintenance

- Administration

- Student Activities

  • No one category decreased in all three respondent groups. However, Student Behavioral Values ranks lower in 2003 by students while it remains constant among parents and teachers.
  • Although parents rank Academic Orientation higher in 2003, students and teachers generally ranked this category lower.
  • Teacher perceptions of Parent-Community-School Relations remains consistent while parent and student perceptions both show an increase in this area; reasons for this increase in parent and student perceptions may include the additional positive phone calls and autodialing system that have been implemented over the last year.

Generally, it must be noted that growth on the CASE survey is being achieved in most categories and strategies for improvement are making positive progress toward goal attainment.

As for the MCHS graduates who completed one and five-year surveys, participation in the survey has been low, with only 65 respondents in 2001-2002 (Classes of 2000 and 1996) and 40 respondents in 2002-2003 (Classes of 2001 and 1997). Approximately 325 surveys are distributed annually.

Due to the low number of respondents, this sample may not be representative. Areas for growth may be indicated by this low response rate, and additional methods to achieve a greater response may be necessary.

Although the response rate is low, an increase over the last two years is shown in all measured categories of general aspects of the high school. Students seem most satisfied in areas of Personal Security/Safety and Attitude of Non-Teaching Staff Toward Students. One area of least satisfaction is in Students' Voice in the Decision-Making Process; it must be noted, however, that this is the lowest category for the national norm and that MCHS ties with the national norm.

In satisfaction with academics offered, scores range from 3.0 "neutral" to 4.0 "satisfied" for MCHS in all areas. Student responses show most satisfaction with class size and the flexibility to select classes. Areas of least satisfaction include availability of administrators and practical work experiences offered; again, however, it is noted that these two areas are the lowest in national norms as well.

Overall, it is our goal to increase the communication we enjoy both with students as well as with parents. Parental and student involvement in the school environment is one of the best ways we can and will improve. Thank you to the parents and community members who help us to provide quality educational opportunities to our students and to those who serve on both the MCHS Parent Accountability Committee and the district-wide School Accountability Committee. Your input and dialogue helps us to become strong.

Lastly, I need to correct our error from last week. Last week's article on our process for dealing with harassment issues was not written by me but was instead written by guidance counselor Carroll Moore who works extensively with individual students to help them be successful at MCHS. Thanks, Carroll! (Jane Krogman is the principal of Moffat County High School.)

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