World languages survey may be readministered at parent-teacher conferences

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— Low response rate on the Steamboat Springs School District's 2013-14 world languages survey, which parents and students took, has school officials looking at offering the survey again — possibly as soon as Wednesday’s and Thursday’s parent-teacher conferences.

Only 18.77 percent of the 1,129 surveys were returned by students, and parents were even less responsive, turning in just 7.61 percent of the 1,459 surveys sent out.

The survey polled parents and students about whether or not they were interested in having a foreign language other than Spanish offered, and, if so, which language they’d prefer.

Fifth-grade students had the highest response rate with 86.32 percent of students filling out the surveys. But no other grade level that took it responded better than 5.19 percent.

Superintendent Brad Meeks confirmed at Monday’s school board meeting he would reach out to the district’s principals and see if the survey could be administered again — either on paper or electronically — so a more accurate representation of the entire student body could be used in future decisions.

“What we’re looking at doing is taking this information and building on it and making a possible recommendation late (this) fall for the 2015-16 school year,” Meeks said. “I think no matter what the language is (that is chosen), we have to be prepared to make a multi-year commitment.”

Board members tossed out various ideas for stimulating better survey results, including such things as using SurveyMonkey or asking students to take the survey in the minutes prior to the start of their Spanish classes or using a traditional scantron, something Meeks called a “great idea.”

The survey targeted fifth through 10th grade students and their parents — essentially middle-schoolers and high school underclassmen. Fifth-graders, however, were the only students who were given a hard copy of the survey. The rest of the five grade levels were offered the survey online through Infinite Campus.

School Board President Rebecca Williams and board member Robin Crossan even volunteered to help distribute and tally the roughly 1,200 sheets of paper it would take to re-administer the survey in written form, should the district go that route.

Crossan also questioned the survey’s target audience, saying current high school students — including the upperclassmen — should have been those taking it because “they’ve lived through all of it in elementary and middle school,” referring to continuous Spanish instruction.

This year is the first year kindergarten through fifth grade students all have Spanish class offered.

Elementary students have Spanish 45 minutes once a week, and every other Friday, they get an additional course. Middle school and high school students have Spanish offered to all grade levels.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

Comments

Madison Slater 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Sigh. Only 7.6% of the parents bothered to reply. Even more sad than I originally thought. Rightfully so should the survey go out at parent/teacher night! Thank you Steamboat for taking a progressive step forward.

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Carrie Requist 9 months, 3 weeks ago

I was asked to take the survey 3 times since I have 3 kids in the school district. I did reply to the survey once and although I made it through the questions, I found it to be a poorly constructed survey with some questions that felt unanswerable but with no N/A choice or ability to skip them. When participation is so low, things like multiple surveys per household and poorly worded surveys should be looked at as causes. As to the students themselves, my high school student logs into infinite campus, but the middle schoolers do not and would never have seen a request for them to take a survey. From the completely disparate results for the one grade where the survey was taken in class, clearly the rest of the grades were not well informed nor instructed to take the survey.

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Garrett Branson 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Recommendations from the 2013 World Language Task Force, consisting of teachers, students and community members: https://sshspd.pbworks.com/w/file/fetch/66341322/WLTF%20Final%20Presentation%205-15-13.ppt

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