At the District 65 School Board meeting on Nov. 16, Stacy Beardsley, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, summarized the results of a survey of parents and teachers taken between Oct. 15 and 30.
Dr. Beardsley said, “The goal ultimately was to understand the quality of learning of our remote learning for the fall implementation, and to compare that back to the spring implementation.”
She said the survey was conducted entirely online and “so we would see an upward bias in the results. … We do need to understand that there’s most likely an upward bias in these results due to connectivity, and we’re getting input from people that are currently engaged in our remote learning.”
Respondents and Demographics
A total of 3,578 parents responded to the survey in English, and 213 in Spanish; 435 teachers responded.
Kylie Klein, Director of Research, Accountability and Data, told the RoundTable that 58% of the parents who responded were white, 18% Black, 15% Hispanic, 7% Asian, 9% multi-racial, and the balance were other racial or ethnic groups or preferring not to provide their race/ethnicity.
The parents who responded were distributed across the K-8 grade levels. As expected, there was a lower percentage of respondents who had students in the District’s pre-K program.
Across the board, parents gave higher marks to the remote learning program this fall than to the program last spring. For simplicity sake, this article will summarize parents’ views of the remote learning program for this fall, and include some comparisons to the program last spring.
A high percentage of parents said they “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with the statements that “My child or I knows what school work they are expected to complete each day/week (76%); “My child’s teacher is responsive to my/my child’s questions about their school work” (86%); and “My child’s teachers care about my child” (80%). Most of the parents who did not either agree or strongly agree with these statement, fell into the “somewhat agree” category.
Parents were more concerned about their child’s mental health and well-being than their physical health. The chart below reflects the responses to the following questions: “I am concerned with my child’s physical health,” and, “I am concerned with my child’s mental health and well-being (e.g. stress).”
Dr. Beardsley said, parents “continue to communicate that physical health is a concern, a slight increase from the spring. And similarly, families continue to communicate that their child’s mental health and well-being is also a concern, up slightly from the spring.”
Before school started many parents expressed concern about how they would be able to provide support for their children during remote learning and at the same time manage to do the work required for their employment. The survey did not ask questions about parents’ ability to serve these two functions, the time they are spending each day to do so, or their stress levels.
The survey did ask parents to comment on the statement, “My child often requires assistance from an adult or older sibling to complete their school work.” The chart below provides their responses.
Dr. Beardsley said, “We do note that there continues to be a need for support. Yet, we also note that families are reporting a slight decline in the percent of parents agreeing and strongly agreeing with the statement,” than in the spring survey. She said this may suggest that students may becoming more self-sufficient. She said, the data also shows this “has remained a challenge for many families.”
Parents were also asked to respond to the statement, “I feel like my child is falling behind academically.” The responses were pretty equally divided between the three levels of agreement and the three levels of disagreement. The chart below shows the responses.
“This is also an area clearly that is a concern for us as a District and why we are spending considerable time and resources really trying to focus on the quality of remote learning, including these surveys and learning from these surveys to inform professional learning and the supports that we put in place,” said Dr. Beardsley.
One question asked parents to rate their child’s overall remote learning experience: 48% of the parents rates their experience good or very good; 31% were neutral; and 20% said it was bad or very bad. The chart below shows the responses.
Dr. Beardsley said, “What I want to call out is that overall, families reported that their remote learning experience is improved [compared to the spring survey].
“We see this as a real, as a testimony to the good work that our educators and our school leaders are doing to support learning and families.”
High percentages of teachers agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements: “I have the technological supports to access adequate grade level learning for my students” (63%); “I am confident that I can provide rigorous distance instruction” (63%); “I am confident that my students can complete the work that is being assigned during this period” (60%); and “My school leaders have been helpful in resolving challenges related to distance learning” (65%).
The majority of the remaining responses to the above questions fell into the “somewhat agree” category.
Dr. Beardsley said the District has increased learning expectations and teachers “have elevated their demand for the types of things that they need to be able to deliver learning well.” She saw the responses to the above questions as a sign that the District has been able to meet the increased expectations.
Dr. Beardsley added that the responses suggest “an increased level of confidence among our educators in this environment.”
Many teachers did not respond to questions about the math or reading curriculum, and that the percentages provided in the survey report did not reflect the percentage of those who responded. Dr. Beardsley said, though, there has been a lot of positive feedback about the math curriculum and the actual teaching resources. She said concerns have been raised about Eureka’s online tools and added “the company has actually released several rounds of updates and continues to meet with us regularly; and they are providing dates for the next wave of deliverables as we continue to improve the quality of the online delivery of Eureka math curriculum.
“For the reading resources, we did purchase additional videos and [reading materials] for kindergarten through fifth grade,” said Dr. Beardsley. The feedback on Lowe’s is positive, yet educators are still showing a desire for stronger reading curricular resources. The feedback also indicated that part of this is the desire and need for access for additional books to support students reading and literacy instruction.” She said this is being addressed by the library department and the literacy department.
High percentages of teachers expressed concern for their physical health and for their mental health and well-being. The chart below shows teachers’ responses to the statements: “I am concerned about my physical health,” and “I am concerned with my mental health and well-being (e.g. stress).”
Teachers were asked one important question about student engagement: “On average, what percentage of your students complete their primary assignments during a given week?” The responses indicate that about 50% of the students are getting 75% of their primary assignments in. Conversely, 50% are not.
Dr. Beardsley said, “Our educators are seeing a significantly high level of engagement in this particular slide and engagement, we see 48% of our educators saying that over 75% of their students are completing all of their primary assignments in class work.
“Now, that does tell us that we still absolutely have a group that we need to still fully engage. But we see a significantly higher level of engagement, while we’ve also significantly increased the learning demand for our students.
“And we see that as being a really positive indicator for our remote learning, while also weighing that we clearly need to continue to negotiate physical health, mental health and well-being, as we were negotiating both remote learning and our future for on-site learning,” when it is safe to return to on-site learning.
Board member Biz Lindsay-Ryan said, “I think my primary concerns are about the population we’re not hearing from, that are not responding to these surveys, that are not engaging in class.” She asked what strategies the District was using to reach out to students who are not successful and to engage them.
Dr. Beardsley said teachers have been preparing more remote learning engagement plans for students. Each plan has goals and a specific outreach plan for a particular student.
She added that school building leadership has been strong in trying to connect with families and to determine what might be interfering with a student’s access to learning. The suspension of the District’s remote learning in camps and other spaces has limited some opportunities to engage students, she said.
Dr. Beardsley added that the District has a student engagement coordinator, Brian Harris, who is focused through a grant to focus on six schools. If a teacher and a school engagement team have done everything possible to engage a student, then the next step would be to reach out to him. Dr. Beardsley said Mr. Harris has done some home visits, practicing social distancing guidelines.
Andalib Khelghati, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, said the District has been talking about how to forge ways in which extra steps can be taken to support some students, noting, “There are realities where our families are facing really difficult situations that pale in terms of what we could have ever imagined.”
Board member Rebeca Mendoza emphasized, “I think it’s so important that we hear from all of our families.”