Perception Survey Results for Families & Staff

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Verona Area School District Shares Staff/Family Perception Survey Data

(VERONA) – (April. 22, 2019) The Verona Area School District (VASD) unveiled its annual perception survey for the 2018-2019 school year. This year’s survey asked staff and families to respond on a variety of questions ranging from how individuals want to receive school information to what they feel are priorities for the future, all the way to having each school in the district ranked in approximately 30 topic areas addressed through more than 100 specific questions. More than half of district staff (53%) took part while nearly 1,300 family members responded. This survey was administered by a survey administration company to compare results with other school districts similar in size.

“This year was a big year for the district as we unveiled our five-year Strategic Plan,” said Dean Gorrell, superintendent of the Verona Area School District. “Our mission of ‘EVERY student must succeed’ cannot be unveiled without the direction this data can offer. We can’t say thank-you enough to all those who took the time to respond.” The survey results will assist the district and its 11 schools on its continuous improvement process, developing goals and strategies to advance their mission.

Last year’s survey included an added focus on strategic planning as equity-related questions were included to help unveil goals for creating the 2018 Strategic Plan. This year’s survey results were then organized in a manner that reflected those equity results and how they aligned with the Strategic Plan pillars. In addition, to address the low number of survey responses from families of color, the district took it ONE STEP FURTHER and carried out an actual focus group with a large number of Latino families as well as personal phone call interviews to nearly 20 black families with the desire to capture responses on a number of the equity-specific questions.

Overall themes from the perception survey data only (not including the focus groups or interview question responses) include the following:

Strengths: As 86% of family survey respondents shared they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the district, 92% agree that the district and schools’ communication efforts effectively inform them of the regular happenings throughout the district, and 78% shared the amount of communication is “just right.” Eighty-two percent of respondents agreed that the district is heading in the right direction with 78% sharing there is effective financial management, while nearly 90% agree the district is forming effective partnerships with businesses and community organizations.

Focusing on staff and academics, 89% of staff members taking the survey felt the district offers a high-quality academic program and 95% shared the district is a good place to work. Of the staff respondents, 99% agree their job contributes to the success of the district with 91% sharing their job is personally satisfying.

“It is essential for the district to celebrate with staff members the great things they are already doing everyday in their classrooms and support positions. Every single person makes a difference in our students’ day-to-day experience here,” said Gorrell. “But obviously these results also demonstrate to our administration and staff where we need to improve. We only hope as we compare results from year-to-year that we continue improve to ensure our mission that EVERY student must succeed.

Improvements: One major improvement the District strives to focus on each year is to improve our reach to more diverse families for survey responses, as 75% of respondents were white, with the rest reporting they were two or more races, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Island, Black or Native American. New this year, a focus group was held with a large group of our Spanish-speaking families, as well as a separate interview process with our Black families to gain feedback on a number of priorities that directly align with our equity-related questions tying into our Strategic Plan.

Other major themes on the improvement side included staff sharing the most critical need for a more consistent protocol to handle student discipline. Interestingly, when asked what staff members feel are the top five priorities to be able to provide a quality education for our students, three items stood high above the rest:

•Provide additional intervention/support services for struggling students
•Provide additional counseling, psychologist and social work services.
•Better prepare students for life after high school (whether college or career)

Family feedback continues to share the need to focus more on preparing students for life after high school and college/career readiness. In addition, families note a gap in programming for struggling students (or at-risk of not graduating), for gifted and talented students and a gap in additional mental health supports for our students.

It is hoped these areas for improvement will be accelerated with the Board of Education’s new Strategic Plan as well as their approval in 2013 of creating a personalized learning plan for every child, targeted to support each student in their post-secondary goals and aspirations. With evidence of this initiative already being seen in some classrooms throughout the district, it officially unveiled district-wide THIS school year.

Board of Education president Noah Roberts remarked that the School Board is committed to listening to the voices of our community and staff and committing to action to address identified priorities and areas in need of improvement. These survey results played an integral role in informing the development of the district’s strategic plan and continue to serve as a barometer of our ongoing progress.

“The data from this survey, which now includes equity-related strategic planning questions, will continue to not only guide us on equitable resource allocation, but will also drive the work of our administration and school continuous improvement teams. Student success will always be the board’s main goal…and gathering feedback from parents and staff and utilizing this data to inform our decisions is a critical part of moving the district forward.”

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