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Parents Grading Schools

by James Liebman, Jul 24, 2006

Taking the Public Pulse
--Gail Robinson
Beyond 311: Listening to New Yorkers
--Diana Fortuna
What Residents Can Tell Government
--Douglas Muzzio
The Web Site, 311, Surveys and Focus Groups
--Jeffrey Kay
The Way in San Jose
--Brooke Myhre

The Department of Education is just getting started with surveys. We see this effort as handing the school system back to parents so that they have information to voice their concerns about their schools or move from one school to another.

We are putting into place five new measures. We are going to take periodic assessments of where the kids are during the year. We are going to do an on-site quality review of every school. And we are going to look at school environment. The key to the school environment measure is going to be surveys of parents, students and teachers starting about 10 months from now. From middle school up, students will be included. At all schools, parents and teachers will be included.

We are going to ask them about a number of things. First, do parents feel that their children are safe at school and on the way to school? Do children feel that they are safe?

Secondly what about engagement? This affects everyone -- teacher, student and parent. Do they understand what the mission of that school is and what their role is in that mission? Students and parents are going to be asked about this in a very focused way: Imagine your child’s – or your -- third period class, and answer these questions about that class. Do know what’s taking place there? If you feel your child has problems in that class, do you know who you should go to?

Very shortly, we are going to put out a request for proposals and ask people both to help us design those surveys and conduct then. It is very important that the designers of the surveys work not only with us but with parents, teachers and students. We want to be learning what people think of the system even before the surveys are built so we can build them the right way.

James Liebman is chief accountability officer for the New York City Department of Education


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