Parents' questions answered about statewide school survey

Parents' questions answered about statewide school survey

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - If you're a parent with a child in school, you may have received a letter from the state department of education.  Some parents are asking questions about what they're for and where their answers are going.

The survey started as part of the state's Education Accountability Act in 1998. It's a way for parents, teachers and students to share feelings about their school, what's being done right and what could change.  It's for 5th, 8th and 11th grade students and their parents.  Teachers and students both completed their surveys online.

The statewide survey asks dozens of questions to measure home and school relations, the school's learning environment and the school's social and physical environment.  Robin Jones is the Principal of the Academy for the Arts, Science and Technology.  She told WMBF News she's able to use the survey to evaluate if there's enough volunteer opportunities and events from student engagement to safety and security.

For example, Principal Jones said she wouldn't be surprised if students and teachers used the survey to show discontent with a lack of parking.  She said if the surveys show a consistent answer, the situation will be looked at.

"...And that's all reported on the report card...and that gives you the opportunity to get a snapshot of really how well you're doing as a school...and because perception is reality we have to listen to the voices of those three constituents, I guess you could say...our teachers, our parents and our students," Principal Jones said.

Jones said she can use feedback, especially from teacher and student surveys, to directly work with her faculty and student government to make immediate changes. "It might be a reflection of something that shows we need to make a change.  It might be a reflection of dress code, it might be a reflection of maybe a limited amount of lunch time because we're growing...that might make a different in the answer they give...and if we can do something about it, we try to do something about it," she said.

Jones explained these surveys tell a story about how the school is perceived, and said it's important for school leaders to listen to answers.

"We need to talk to teachers.  If they're saying none of my teachers call on me to say anything positive and that score is high...I mean that 'agree' because it's a like-scale...then we need to talk about that as a faculty.  About what we're not doing to make sure that our children feel welcome, that they're cared about and that it's not just about those who are always on top.  Every child needs some attention, every child needs some support and those are the little things we can find out from using this kind of survey," Principal Jones said.

Parent surveys are due back Tuesday, March 21.

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