Arlington Citizen-Journal

July 3, 2014

Parent satisfaction rises in survey done on Arlington school district

The rating for employee engagement dips, while the rating for district services reaches a new high.

Parents give the Arlington school district a “green light,” according to the results of a third-party survey recently released.

The survey, which included parent satisfaction, employee engagement and district services components, was conducted by the Studer Group in May.

Parent satisfaction scored the highest, with 7,169 parents responding during a monthlong window and giving the district a 4.39 rating out of 5 for 17 criteria.

Parents were asked to list scores on statements like “My child’s learning is a high priority at this school,” “My family is treated with respect at this school,” and “The teachers, staff, and administration at this school demonstrate a genuine concern for my child.”

Arlington scored the highest in parent satisfaction out of seven other districts that Studer works with, Janet Pilcher, a Studer executive, told school trustees recently.

Pilcher said parents were notified via their school leaders and could take the survey online or on paper.

She said Arlington had a good response rate on parent satisfaction, compared with last May’s survey — which drew 7,178 responses and a 4.22 rating.

Arlington schools spokeswoman Leslie Johnston said that the administration has shared the results with campuses and that staffers are developing action plans for the upcoming year.

Participation in the employee engagement component dipped from last spring, when the test was administrated in March.

Some 4,003 employees participated in the 2014 survey, compared with 4,559 in 2013.

All the results were presented at Thursday night’s school board meeting, where the trustees approved a $508.4 million budget for next year.

Superintendent Marcelo Cavazos said at the meeting that the district had to push the survey date back because of competing surveys.

Those included community dialogues and questionnaires from the district’s Capital Needs Steering Committee, an employee survey during the bond planning process and a state survey, Johnston said.

Employee engagement surveys are done twice a year, one at the end of fall and one in the spring. Parent satisfaction is gauged in the spring only.

The surveys are provided to all staffers except the superintendent.

Participants gave the district a 3.76 rating, down from the 3.80 rating they gave the district in March 2013.

Some of the dips in ratings came from questions like “My principal/supervisor makes the best use of available funds,” and “The superintendent makes decisions that are in the best interest of the school district.”

“When the leaders come back, they will roll out results to staff and create an action plan for areas they want to focus on,” Pilcher said of the upcoming school year.

Arlington rated the second-lowest in the employee engagement survey, compared with Studer’s seven other districts.

Jamie Sullins, school board vice president, explained that the results are a “great diagnostic tool” and will be “used to set metrics for improvement.

“I’m excited for after the rollout happens,” Trustee Kecia Mays said at the meeting. “A lot of people don’t participate because they don’t think it will make a difference.”

The third survey — on district services — is done three times a year and saw a drop from 123 to 70 participants from last spring.

However, the overall score of 4.03 increased from all the previous surveys.

The district services survey gives administrators the opportunity to rate the district, Pilcher said.

Areas like accessibility, accuracy, attitude, operations and timeliness were scored.

Attitude scored the highest while timeliness scored the lowest.

Arlington rated the third-lowest, compared with Studer’s seven other districts, on that front.

The next step is to look at each department and level of participation, isolate where the dips in the scores are and work on them, Cavazos said at the meeting.

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