(Updated) Parents and teachers feel the city’s new K-2 school is off to a strong start, according the latest school surveys.
Quinnipiac School, which opened in the fall on Lexington Avenue, has emerged with good reviews: 87 percent of parents who took surveys, and 82 percent of teachers, said they “recommend” the school.
That was one highlight of the latest round of surveys passed around to teachers, students, staff and parents earlier this year at the city’s 47 schools and programs, as well as adult ed. The school district officially released the surveys at 11 a.m. Friday. The public can see them at this link.
For the first time, the public can view the results in an easy-to-navigate online database, instead of having to download PDFs.
Another change this year: After the teachers union objected, the district stopped issuing cumulative numbers summing up a school’s climate. Instead, you can now see what percent of students, parents, teachers and staff gave the school “favorable” ratings.
The system instituted surveys in 2010 in the quest of “accountability” and “transparency” as part of a broader reform initiative.
“The school climate survey is a tool for schools and for communities,” said Assistant Superintendent Garth Harries. “We think the most important part of this is people paying attention” to the results and addressing them. “In order for that to happen, we felt like the whole thing needed to be more user-friendly.”
The surveys “represent the views of 9,667 5th to 12th grade students (87% of the student population), 5,633 parents (35 percent of the parent population), 1,488 teachers (78 percent of teachers) and 488 non-instructional staff members, including front office secretaries, security guards, and custodial staff (54 percent of staff),” according to schools spokeswoman Abbe Smith.
Here are some highlights:
• Despite its recent downgrading on the school system’s annual report card (from Tier II to Tier III), Fair Haven School showed high satisfaction ratings: 97 percent of students feel “safe” at Fair Haven School and 90 percent “care about the school,” well over the district K-8 averages of 75 and 65 percent. And a whopping 93 percent of teachers recommend the school, compared to an average of 68 percent across all K-8 schools.
The climate surveys are factored into the annual report card, along with growth on standardized tests, and absolute performance on standardized tests.
• Farther up Grand Avenue, Columbus Family Academy also got rave reviews from teachers: All 31 who responded (91 percent of the teaching staff) said they’d recommend the school to friends or colleagues.
• Results are mixed among “turnaround” schools, where the city replaced teaching staff in attempt to raise failing scores. In the second year of a turnaround, students are feeling safer at Clemente Leadership Academy—73 percent reported feeling “safe,” an increase of 8 percent over the prior year. But challenges remain: Only 42 percent of teachers recommend the school. In the second year of a turnaround at Wexler/Grant, 67 percent of parents and 21 percent of teachers recommend the school. Three years into its turnaround, Brennan/Rogers has seen much more positive results: 91 percent of parents and 83 percent of teachers recommend the school.
• Fifty-seven percent of Barnard School teachers recommend their school, up 24 percent over the prior year.
• Truman School is a very unpopular place to work: Just 15 percent of teachers said they recommend the school.
• Troup and Clinton Avenue schools also had low ratings: 26 and 27 percent of teachers recommend the schools respectively.
• Hyde and Bishop Woods schools both saw approval ratings drop significantly among parents, staff and teachers.
• New Haven Academy got high satisfaction ratings: 92 percent of parents and 85 percent of teachers “recommend” the school.
• Hillhouse High showed significant drops in approval. Click here for a related story.
Asked to respond to the red flags at some schools, Harries replied, “There’s an individual story happening in each and every one of our schools. The results on different questions highlight that. I frankly think at many of our schools, there are causes of concern and also reasons for celebration.”
Harries was asked specifically what should be done about Hillhouse High. He declined to get into details.
“Hillhouse, like every one of our school communities, needs to come together, look at the school survey, and figure out how to strengthen their school community,” he replied.
Hillhouse Principal Kermit Carolina, who’s running for mayor, plans to launch a robust defense at a candidates’ debate Friday night at 6:30 at Varick Memorial Zion Church at 242 Dixwell Ave.