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
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
Opinions on multi-age, looping, and traditionally structured classes varied (some for and
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
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
o Bathrooms do not have a clean appearance and smell bad. Not enough soap /
o Fencing is dilapidated. TOTP Track needs maintenance. More updated play
o There is concern that it is difficult for teachers to keep track of children during
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.
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
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.