Harris reports prove insignificant | SteamboatToday.com

Harris reports prove insignificant

School Board not happy with school satisfaction survey results

Frank Ameduri

Implementation flaws greatly reduced the validity of a survey intended to gauge satisfaction with Steamboat schools, Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said.

Harris Interactive, a New York-based company, administered the survey to Steamboat Springs students, parents, faculty and staff at the end of the 2007-08 school year to follow up on questions asked in 2006. Much of the data from Steamboat Springs middle and high schools could not be used this year, however, because of a software error that resulted in the wrong version of the survey being distributed to secondary students.

Harris Interactive representative Michele Gosney walked the Steamboat Springs School Board through data from the district Monday, but she said the secondary school data would not give a “direct apples-to-apples comparison” because of the flaw.

“I am here to personally apologize for it. We realize you lost some trend data because of this,” Gosney said. The company offered earlier this year to retest students, but, by that time, the school year had ended.

The survey was corrupted when a Spanish-language version of the test was added. That caused a glitch, giving secondary students the survey intended for elementary schools.

In the data that was collected, satisfaction with elementary school atmosphere, equipment and facilities and computer technology all showed decreases from 2006 to 2008, but board member John DeVincentis said other factors could have contributed to the drops, especially the construction of Soda Creek Elementary School and the students’ placement at the Camp Soda Creek temporary facility.

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“This is really hard to judge unless it’s separated out (by schools). Is this separated out?” DeVincentis asked.

Gosney said it is separated by different criteria, such as boys and girls and separate grades, but she did not present any information comparing the two elementary schools.

Cunningham said she will distribute the information to building principals, but said the results were not very applicable. She said more reliable data could be collected by talking with building administrators.

“I think you go to the source,” she said. “Those of us who are here 50 to 70 hours a week know the climate.”

The largest drop in satisfaction came from staff and public reaction to the School Board, which scored a 48 percent approval rating from teachers and staff, and a 59 percent approval from parents. Those scores were the lowest responses from those two groups and were down from 66 percent approval from both groups in 2006.

No Harris Interactive surveys are planned for this year. The board will decide whether the survey will continue in the 2009-10 school year.

Strawberry Park leaders

Also during its Monday meeting, the School Board approved contracts for Michele Miller and Celia Dunham as interim co-principals of Strawberry Park Elementary School. The two former Instructional Support Specialists were hired to take over for Brenda Barr, who left the position after one year to work with the Colorado Department of Education.

Contracts for Dunham and Miller totaled $123,264.

Superintendent Shalee Cunningham said the principals chose not to replace the instructional support specialist position vacated by Dunham at Strawberry Park. The co-principals will take on those duties instead.

The board also approved emergency licenses for the pair. Miller and Dunham had planned to take a course through Adams State College to earn their administrators’ licenses, but because of a change in course schedule, they will not be able to begin classes until spring.

– To reach Zach Fridell, call 871-4208

or e-mail zfridell@steamboatpilot.com