Improving Steamboat’s school system | SteamboatToday.com
Donna K. Howell

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Improving Steamboat’s school system

Student, parent and teacher opinions valued in quest for excellence

The Steamboat Springs School District is committed to improving the quality of education provided to every student. We think we must actively seek and consciously use input from parents, teachers, staff and students. Several years ago, we conducted more than 17 focus forums, held a community-wide meeting and commissioned audits of our curriculum management process, technology infrastructure and facilities. The input from the parents, teachers, staff and community, along with the results of the audits, were transformed into a long-range strategic plan for the school district.

One of the goals in our long-range strategic plan is to distribute common perception surveys to students, parents, teachers and staff. We think a common perception survey will help us better understand additional areas that need to be addressed in the district. The main goal of administering perception surveys is to improve district-wide educational programs and services. The district’s leadership team reviewed sample surveys and chose the survey developed by Harris Interactive, a company that has more than 25 years’ experience in the design and management of customer-based satisfaction measurement systems. This survey instrument, called the School Poll Program, has been used extensively by school districts as a basis for system-wide and school-level improvement efforts.

The School Poll Program has a separate parent, teacher/staff and student version of the survey. Students in grades three through 12 and all teachers and staff will be surveyed between April 11 and 13. Students will complete the online student survey in the computer lab. Teachers and staff will receive an invitation to complete the survey through their e-mail addresses. Parents will be mailed a survey April 7 and will be asked to return it in a sealed envelope within two weeks to their child’s school or the district’s central office. Responses to survey questions are confidential and anonymous.

Each group will provide its input regarding key service areas that are important to district and school performance. Results from the survey will focus on three key pieces of information:

Levels of satisfaction for major areas such as atmosphere, equipment and facilities, communications, administration, principal, superintendent and board.

The frequency of occurrence of specific events within the district, such as availability of extra help during the school year, parent involvement, etc.

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The effect specific events have on each group’s satisfaction and a prioritized list of issues that should be addressed to improve satisfaction.

This comprehensive survey will provide feedback about our performance. This feedback will give our district administration, board, parents, teachers and staff a better grasp on our constituents’ opinion about the job we are doing.

The district will receive the results of the surveys about six weeks after they are sent for scoring to Harris Interactive. The results will provide a baseline measure of perceptions related to our service performance. The data will be used for professional reflection and goal development. The data will help to focus our efforts on quality improvements and initiatives in our individual schools and the district as a whole.

Dr. Donna Howell is the superintendent of the Steamboat Springs School District.