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Danvers school superintendent releases survey results

Posted by Stewart Bishop  July 7, 2011 12:58 PM

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Danvers School Superintendent Lisa Dana announced the findings of the school district's Climate Survey, a poll of parents, teachers, other staff and community residents.

The poll for the 2010-2011 school year, taken during April and May of 2011, was commissioned in order to share information about various issues confronting the district and to gather feedback from parents, staff, and others about various aspects of district operations, school officials said. Several topics were included in the survey including district leadership, major district decisions, progress of the strategic plan, budget, district operations and communications.

In a letter to the community last week, Dana said the survey was a part of a broader effort to include more voices in the important work of educating Danvers' children.

"We now reach out to parents twice every year, community members (residents who do not have a child attending a district school) at least once, and our teachers and staff on more than three occasions," Dana said. "This two-way dialogue brings us all closer. We follow up on each survey by sharing the findings with you so there is full transparency and accountability."

One part of the survey was to find out how participants perceived the progress the district is making with respect to it's strategic plan, a four year plan begun in 2009 to address issues of curriculum, instruction and assessment, student support, school climate and culture, human resources, facilities and technology, communications, partnership and planning budget and finance, according to school officials.

Dana said the feedback concerning the plans advancement was overwhelmingly positive with over 90% of parents indicating that they felt progress had been made in a majority of the plans themes.

Some of the other findings were:

-81% of staff graded the district as an "A" or "B", 72% of parents gave similar grades.

-Most parents (86%) said that they are familiar or very familiar with the roles and
responsibilities of the School Committee.

-Parents (82%) and staff (90%) indicated that the decisions made by the district were good decisions in support of education.

-Most parents (81%) and staff (86%) indicated that the schools are effectively teaching students to respect others who are different from themselves.

-65% of parents indicated that community input was sought before the district made decisions.

-Parents raised concerns that meetings are held at times that working parents cannot attend.

-Only 31% of parents and 32% of staff believe that the current funding level is adequate to meet Danvers' education needs.

-55% of parents and 63% of staff feel that a lot of progress has been made toward meeting the goal of "providing inclusive, welcoming and safe school environments that invite students and their families to school, promote respect for all individuals and cultivate enthusiasm for learning."

In addition, the survey garnered considerable feedback on how parents, staff and others thought the district could improve. Many parents said there should be less emphasis on MCAS preparation, and better communication between the school and parents. Many of the staff advocated for smaller class sizes, particularly for high school and advance placement classes, as well as more consistence in the enforcement of policies, discipline and grading standards, according to the survey results.

Dana thanked everyone who took part in the survey and said the information would not be wasted.

"Along with the administrative council, I will be studying the survey data closely this summer and it will be the subject of many internal discussions," Dana said. "I hope you will continue to share your thoughts and ideas with us and even reach out to your friends and neighbors to join the dialogue next year."

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