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Summary – Davidson Elementary School 2011-2012 Parent/Guardian Survey Summary of Key Themes in Parent Comments for SLT Below is a summary of key themes from the qualitative comments of parents/guardians in the recent DES survey for the 2011-2012 academic year. Many parents expressed their appreciation of many facets of Davidson Elementary School – from the quality of teaching to the inviting and caring environment. The themes below are those that the DES Survey Subcommittee has identified as most relevant to the SLT as we consider school improvement opportunities for this academic year and beyond. Teaching / Learning Many respondents commented that student learning should be more experiential, with fewer worksheets used in teaching and more hands-on learning. This was coupled with a desire for more creativity in the classroom and more teacher freedom/flexibility. Some commented that they did not like teaching-to-the-test, would like children to be more excited about learning. Many parents would like to see greater differentiation and teaching according to students’ individual achievement levels. Several questioned whether advanced students were sufficiently challenged; others felt the students in the middle were not getting enough attention; yet others commented that lower-performing students were not sufficiently remediated. Parents would like to see more small-group work, collaboration among teachers, and more math differentiation in particular. Several parents commented that the quality of teaching and level of academic rigor varies from one classroom to the next. Many expressed an interest in offering more art, music, science, and outdoor learning opportunities. Opinions on multi-age, looping, and traditionally structured classes varied (some for and others against). Opinions on homework varied greatly, with some wanting less homework, some wanting more and some wanting different content. Some parents had questions regarding DES’s new flex time program (e.g., whether all the time should be spent on reading, or questioning whether extracurricular activities could be included during this time). There were several questions and comments made regarding the Talent Development (TD) program. Many feel the program provides insufficient information about student eligibility, the schedule for testing, the integration into the standard curriculum, availability across a broader spectrum of students, frequency, and workload expectations. Communication Several parents stated that communication frequency and content varies greatly depending on the teacher. Several respondents mentioned that they received too little communication about the curriculum and what their child is expected to learn per subject. Many stated that they would like to get better communication about what their child is learning each week. Some parents stated that homework assignments should be communicated more clearly, especially when young children are involved. A few respondents expressed an interest in more communication regarding their child’s performance throughout the year (such as an additional parent-teacher conference or other in-depth communication in the second half of the school year) Some commented that there needs to be more consistent communication between the school and the PTO - especially between the two organizations’ web sites. Community – Internal (PTO, Parent Involvement, etc.) and External (Community at large) A handful of parents described a disconnect between working and non-working parents, and felt too much volunteering in the classroom was expected. Some feel that parents who volunteer regularly at the school receive preferential treatment as compared to parents who are unable to do so. The initial impression upon entering the school has been unfavorable for several parents. Some commented that there seems to be a core group of PTO parents at the school, with little desire for newcomers to participate. One parent commented that the PTO should be made to be more inclusive. Parents expressed an interest in Davidson continuing to build upon efforts at providing children with exposure to external communities such as Davidson College, The Pines, Latta Plantation, etc. The desire is to use these partnerships to enrich the learning experience for all students. Safety and Physical Environment Parents commented on the following challenges: o Prevention of intruders from entering school is not adequate. Safety is a concern for some. o Bathrooms do not have a clean appearance and smell bad. Not enough soap / towels. o Fencing is dilapidated. TOTP Track needs maintenance. More updated play equipment needed. o There is concern that it is difficult for teachers to keep track of children during recess. Behavior Some parents had concerns that discipline efforts were ineffective or overly harsh in some instances. (Some expressed concern regarding punishment methods such as silent lunches, and punishing the whole class for the actions of a minority.) Other parents were concerned that not enough discipline was occurring in some classrooms, and that disruptive students were interfering with other students’ learning. Increased supervision in cafeteria needed. Bus behavior is still a concern for some. Other Many parents expressed disappointment regarding the mid-year timing of Principal Hall’s departure and the short tenure of recent DES principals. A large number of respondents stated that the school day is too long, leaving children with little time for extracurricular activities. Special needs screening was described as too slow and interventions not always effective. Some commented that the school counselor’s role should be more clearly defined. Class size and the need for additional teachers’ assistants is a concern for some. Some parents commented on the need for school uniforms. A handful of parents expressed an interest in making foreign language instruction part of the school’s standard curriculum. Some expressed an interest in more physical activity. They would like to see more opportunity for movement as the kids learn and would like to see that TOTP is set aside as a separate time block, outside of recess.
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