The results of a parent survey that was conducted earlier this year were presented to the District 202 School Board at its Sept. 22 meeting. The survey focused on four areas: student support services, home-school connection, Evanston Township High School’s reputation and the school calendar. Overall, the results are generally positive.
Surveys were distributed to a total of 2,787 families; 33% responded. Twenty-three percent of the respondents, however, did not report their student’s race/ethnicity which created a large margin of error ranging from 8 to 12% when analyzing results by race/ethnicity. The report thus did not draw conclusions broken down by race/ethnicity.
Board Vice President Pat Savage-Williams asked how the school could obtain more substantial information from these subgroups in the future. Gretchen Livingston, Board president, suggested adding “reassuring language” so people understand that questions of race/ethnicity are not being used in
Dr. Carrie Levy, Director of Research at ETHS, reported to the Board that overall, results indicate that parents feel welcome at the school, that they believe there are opportunities to contribute ideas to their student’s education and that their opinions and concerns are respected by ETHS administration.
Forty-eight percent of the respondents, however, felt they were not adequately informed about the work of the ETHS Board. School Board member Jonathan Baum said this was one of the “challenges” revealed in the survey, and he suggested adding more information to the school’s website about what happened and what is to come with regards to the regular Board meetings. Ms. Livingston said the Board page on ETHS’s website is currently being improved.
About 75% of respondents said they believe both teachers and administrators work hard to build trusting relationships with parents. Comments about parent-teacher conferences indicate that, while the majority of parents feel face-to-face contact with teachers is important, the conferences are too short and lack substance. “Since I check Home Access often, the teachers don’t need to go over that with me,” said one respondent. “I’d prefer less structured conversation, i.e. just a chance to check in and get the teacher’s sense of how my student is doing, how they could improve, etc.”
Parents were asked several questions about how the school communicates with them, particularly through the website. The results show that 95% of the respondents use the ETHS website and the vast majority find it easy to navigate. Eighty-three percent reported that publications such as the Pilot, Course Selection Guide, and school activities calendar were easily accessible. Over half of respondents reported that they know who to contact regarding most students issues, but only 44% said they know who to contact with concerns about mental health issues.
Use of Student Supports, Hiring of Tutors
One finding came as a surprise to the Board. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents reported that they had hired a tutor to help their student. “This suggests a lot of parents are getting services that others aren’t,” said Mr. Baum. “Or don’t choose to,” added Ms. Livingston. She went on to say that the use of tutors does indicate “potential equity issues.”
Board member Scott Rochelle said that the issue is “worth more follow-up questions” to determine if this is a “situation where kids who want a tutor can’t afford one.”
MD Shelton, the student representative on the Board, pointed out that Team ASAP does in fact offer free tutors but that the question is, “How do we make them more accessible?”
Dr. Pete Bavis, Associate Principal of Teaching and Learning, said Northwestern University is also deploying tutors through the new Student Success Center (Hub) and that tutoring is a “new focus” for Team ASAP which is also using the Hub.
Parents were asked about their perception of ETHS’ reputation locally, across the greater Chicago area, and nationwide. Eighty-one percent feel that ETHS has a good reputation compared to other high schools in the North Shore; 89% feel that it has a good reputation in the greater Chicago area; and 74% feel that it has a good reputation nationwide.
Parents were asked to consider two options for the school calendar. Option A reflects the current ETHS schedule, with the school year beginning in the last week of August or first week in September and ending in mid-June. Under this option the first semester exams take place in mid-January. The second option parents considered, Option B, has the school year starting at an earlier date in mid-August and over by the end of May. Under this option the first semester exams would take place before winter break.
The results were fairly split. Overall, 55% of parents preferred Option A and 45% preferred Option B.
Parents were asked how satisfied they were with the content taught at ETHS, the courses offered, the academic supports, the academic and social/emotional counseling services, and the overall educational program:
– 71% reported being extremely or very satisfied with the content taught;
– 84% are extremely or very satisfied with the courses offered;
– 78% are extremely or very satisfied with the academic supports offered.
Just over 50% are extremely or very satisfied with academic counseling services, and 56% with the social/emotional counseling services.
The survey, “gives us clear paths to move forward,” said Ms. Livingston “A lot of what we are already doing responds to [issues raised in the survey].