15 Sep 2014
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LTHS Climate survey yields positive results...again

LTHS Climate survey yields positive results...again LTHS Climate survey yields positive results...again LTHS Climate survey yields positive results...again
This fall, LTHS administered student, staff and parent climate surveys, designed to gauge opinions on a variety of school-related issues. The online surveys included a variety of categories, such as instruction, communication, life at school and social/emotional development. The survey was nearly identical to the climate survey given in 2011, and LTHS once again contracted with School Perceptions to administer and analyze the findings against national norms for comparison purposes.

Overall, this year’s results were very similar to the results of the survey conducted in 2011, with significant gains in the areas of communication and anti-bullying efforts. Academic stress remains an area of focus, and access to the latest technology was identified as a possible area of need.

Overall Satisfaction Remains Extremely High
Ninety-six percent of all parents surveyed were very satisfied/satisfied with the school and 95% strongly agreed/agreed that they were satisfied with the education their child receives at LT. Eighty-two percent of students strongly agreed/agreed that they are well prepared for college and/or life after high school and 89% are proud of the school. The survey found that 91% of staff would recommend LT to other colleagues seeking employment and 80% expressed that they were satisfied with the financial management of LT.

In the 2011 survey, three themes were identified as areas for improvement: a need for improved communication, a desire for more individualized instruction and a concern about the level of stress related to academics. This year’s survey noted significant gains in two of the three areas identified.

Communication
While the 2011 survey did not reveal concerns about the quality of parent communication, results indicated that the method of preferred communication had shifted with parents overwhelmingly preferring to receive communication by e-mail (93%) and website (79%), as opposed to district mailings and printed newsletters. In response, the district changed its primary means of communication to an electronic newsletter to accommodate parents’ communication preferences. As a result, in the 2013 survey, 89% of respondents ranked email as their preferred method of communication, which supports the 94% of the responses that indicate parents receive information predominantly via email. 

2011 survey results also indicated a need for a clearer vision and overall better internal communication. In 2013, the average staff response for all communication items increased by a statistically significant score. 
 
Individualized Instruction
Results from the 2011 survey indicated room for improvement regarding a student’s clarity of expectations for assignments and an understanding of how assignments are graded, as well as the parents’ views of teachers’ personalization of instruction. Thanks to professional development centering on differentiation of instruction, assessment reviews thru Professional Learning Communities, and the launch of Infinite Campus there was a statistically significant gain concerning students’ knowledge about how well they are doing in classes and LT’s average as compared to similar schools is no longer significantly different.

Academic Stress
In the last survey, 87% of students felt academic stress was a problem, which was significantly higher when compared to similar schools. Parents and teachers also indicated academic stress was a problem.  To delve deeper into the issue of academic stress, this year’s survey asked additional questions in an attempt to pinpoint specific information about contributing factors.

Academic stress remains an area of focus for LT, with 79% of students indicating that academic stress is a problem; 75% of teachers and 53% of parents agreed. When asked to indicate their level of stress, 25% of students 
respondents selected overwhelming and 43% selected above average, but manageable.

Parents and students report the primary contributing factor to academic stress is homework. Staff agreed, ranking homework as the third contributing actor to academic stress, with 19% of teachers reporting the overall amount of homework is “too much.” While none of the groups cited time management as a contributing factor to academic stress, it should be noted that 14% of students reported sending more than 200 text messages a day, 19% reported spending more than 3 hours a day on the internet, and 23% reported participating in sports for more than 11 hours per week.

It is clear from the results of the survey that academic stress remains an area of focus for the majority of students. It is also clear from the clarifying questions posed in the most recent survey that homework is the key contributing factor to academic stress. Armed with this information, the district will review the district’s current homework philosophy and guidelines and make recommendations for improvement, conduct student focus groups and concentrate on educating faculty about best practices surrounding homework.

Additional Findings
In addition, an emphasis on anti-bullying efforts was undertaken since the last survey when 42% of students agreed bullying (defined as picking on others) was a problem at LT. The 2013 survey asked respondents to report the number of times they experienced bullying.  Results indicate that the majority of students have never experienced bullying (i.e. physical threats, harassment via texting or social media, verbal threats or being picked on repeatedly by the same student). Additionally, the majority of staff has never witnessed bullying.

Finally, another dominant theme emerged surrounding technology. In the 2013 survey, access to technology was identified as an area of need, with 46% of staff disagreeing or strongly disagreeing that there is enough access to computers for students during the day. Presently LT is exploring the possibility of a 1-to-1 initiative. A task force is being formed to recommend possible device options.

“We want to thank everyone who took the time to participate and share their thoughts about LTHS,” said Superintendent Timothy Kilrea, Ed.D. “We are pleased the data once again reveals such an overall positive response from students, parents and staff, with LT ranking competitively against the national norm in so many categories.”

 “The climate survey provides an avenue for our stakeholders to be heard, and the district intends to listen,” said Kilrea. These initial findings are under discussion and will be parceled out to committees for further study. The results will be used for short term and long range planning.

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