Writing Exercise

Wanda Christopher helps Robert Navarro with a writing exercise in a Kinder Camp classroom at Thomas Elementary School in this July 2014 file photo.

Jake Bacon/Arizona Daily Sun

Flagstaff Unified School District parents are pretty satisfied with the district’s teachers, principals and schools, according an annual survey of parents by the district. Even though the district’s enrollment numbers dropped for the first time in four years during the first 10 days of the 2016-2017 school year from 9,880 in 2016 to 9,828 in 2017. Enrollment figures fluctuate throughout the school year. The district peaked at more than 12,000 students in 1995, right before

FUSD District Relations Coordinator Karin Eberhard said survey is voluntary and is usually available for parents to fill out at the end of the school year with paper copies kept at the each of the schools and a digital version online.

Last year, 1,529 parents filled out the survey with about 90 percent of them saying they were satisfied with their child’s school, about the same percentage as the last two years, 92 percent in 2016 and 90 percent in 2015 had the same response.

The survey is designed to give the district board and administration an idea of what parents think of the climate and culture of the district and its schools. It includes questions about how parents felt teachers and principals were doing, the learning environment at the school and parents’ relationship with their child’s school. Most of the scores for the 26 question survey ranged from about 74 percent approval to nearly 94 percent approval.

The questions for the survey originally came from a Title 1 report that the district has to submit to the federal government, Eberhard said. Title 1 funds are used to help low-income students succeed in school.

The lowest approval rating in the survey, 74 percent, was for the statement “The principal supports the teachers to be the most effective educators possible.” This was a slight dip from the nearly 77 percent who agreed with the statement in 2016 and the nearly 79 percent who agreed with it in 2015.

Ebarhard pointed out that most parents do not interact with the principal beyond waving hi to them while dropping of their child or at school events. Most parents who interact with principals are in the office because there is a problem or issue that needs to be resolved, she said. It’s rare that a parent asks to see the principal because they feel their student is doing well and they want to commend a teacher.

She recommended looking at the approval scores of teachers, which had some of the highest approval ratings in the survey, as a good measure of how parents felt about the job schools were doing educating their children. Parents have more interactions with teachers than with principals, she said.

The highest approval rating was for the statement, “My child’s teacher believes that my child can succeed” with nearly 94 percent of parents surveyed agreeing with the statement. This nearly the same response as the past two years. In 2016 and 2015, 95 percent of parents agreed with the statement.

Other strong points in the survey included students having access to a variety of resources, nearly 93 percent, teachers preparing students for the next grade level, nearly 93 percent and safe learning environments, 92 percent.

Parents gave the lowest approval ratings to parents having the opportunity to make decisions at their student’s school, 76 percent, feeling like they were a partner with their school in their child’s success, 81 percent and principal support for students, 82 percent.

Eberhard said the district is considering expanding the survey to get more detailed answers from parents in the next few years.

The reporter can be reached at sadams@azdailysun.com or (928)556-2253.

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Suzanne writes about education and business. She covers the local school district, charter schools and Northern Arizona University. She also writes the Sunday business features.

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