June 15, 2015

Last week for families and educators to be heard in the School District of Philadelphia District-Wide survey

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It’s the last week for parents, guardians, students, teachers, and principals in the School District of Philadelphia to have their voice heard in the 2015 District-Wide survey.

The District, with support from Penn GSE, is conducting the surveys to better understand what is happening inside Philadelphia’s schools, and how they can be improved.

As part of Shared Solutions, the first formal researcher-practitioner partnership between the SDP and the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education, teams of researchers refined SDP’s existing survey instruments and are working actively to increase participation. The central goal of Shared Solutions, a two-year project funded by IES, is to provide actionable insights into how researchers and practitioners can work together to improve teaching and learning and help create more successful schools. 

Here’s what you need to know about the 2015 District-Wide Surveys:

Why do these surveys matter?

These surveys are a way for parents or guardians, students, teachers, and principals to communicate directly and systematically with the District about what is going on at their schools. 

The surveys collect information about schools that other methods, such as standardized tests, do not capture. They help school leaders and researchers look at key elements of school improvement, like the school’s leadership, its relationship with parents and the community, the school climate, teaching, and learning. If a school is lagging in an area, leaders and other stakeholders can plan the type of targeted intervention to boost performance.

Shared Solutions’ goal is to understand what “success” looks like from the perspective of the school community—the school leaders, teachers, students, and parents who will be taking the surveys.

So far, response has been good. About half of the city’s teachers have responded. More than three times as many students — and five times as many parents/guardians — have already completed the survey compared to last year’s totals. As with all surveys, the more people that respond, the more accurate the data will be.

What’s different this year?

The District has surveyed stakeholders before. But in collaboration with Penn GSE through Shared Solutions, this is the beginning of a coordinated and ongoing effort to provide schools with usable data and also to align the surveys with research goals and specific improvement initiatives. Future surveys will build on this year’s results.  

What is the data used for?

The data generated from the surveys will allow school leaders and other stakeholders to identify what’s working and what’s not working at their schools. The District includes parent/guardian and student response rates in the School Progress Reports as a measure of school quality and parent engagement, since these areas are crucial to understanding the community the District serves. Furthermore, these surveys are aligned with the District’s Action Plan 3.0, are backed by decades of research on effective schools, and were developed and reviewed by principals, teachers, students, and parents across the city.

As part of Shared Solutions, researchers will be using the data to better understand what programs and initiatives are working for Philadelphia students, and how the District and future research can best support schools in meeting the needs of their students.

What schools are being surveyed?

Students attending both traditional public and charter schools, their parents and guardians, teachers, and principals are asked to respond.

How can people take the survey?

Surveys for parents/guardians, students, teachers, , and principals will be open until June 19th. The surveys will only take students and parents/guardians a few minutes to complete, and they are formatted to easily open on a mobile device. Parents/guardians can find a link to the survey here: http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/offices/r/res-eval/district-wide-surveys. Survey links for students in traditional public schools can be found in their Student Portals. Charter students should visit the District survey page link above. Principals and teachers have been e-mailed a link to the survey directly.

Will we see the results?

For schools that meet minimum response thresholds, results from the survey will be made publically available online this summer. For student surveys, the minimum response per school will be whichever is greater, 25 percent of students or 50 students. For parent/guardian surveys, the threshold is whichever is greater, 5 percent of total enrollment or 25 parents.  You’ll be able to look at results for your school and compare them with other schools.

The District and Shared Solutions will publish reports analyzing the results of the surveys later this year and hold events to discuss the data, once the data has been analyzed. Do you want to know how your school is doing? You can track response rates here: http://www.arcgis.com/home/webmap/viewer.html?webmap=ed684a59db8d45b68d45e5614100f20c&extent=-75.2802,39.9036,-74.9012,40.0835