Las Vegas Sun

July 6, 2015

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Parents give Clark County schools high ratings in survey

Parents, students and staff don’t always see eye to eye on school issues, according to a Clark County School District survey released this week.

For example, while 96 percent of parents surveyed said they agreed or strongly agreed that their school was clean, only 67 percent of students and 86 percent of staff said the same.

Each year, the School District conducts parent, staff and student surveys to determine how well the district is performing outside of test scores and graduation rates. This year, a record number responded.

Parents rated the School District the highest among the three surveyed groups. Nearly 19,000 parents took the survey, given online from March 1 to April 27.

In most categories — from how well the district teaches reading, writing and math to academic expectations — parents gave the School District above a 90 percent approval rating.

The only two categories where parents rated the district lower than 90 percent was in bus transportation communication and shared decision-making.

Parents also submitted fewer public complaint forms: just 91, down from a high of 178 from a decade ago.

Students were the most critical of the School District, according to the survey. Nearly 129,000 students out of about 309,000 students in the School District responded to the survey.

Students were critical of the district when it came to healthy, good-tasting cafeteria food, giving the district a 48 percent approval rating. Students also said they didn’t think they received fair treatment from the district, giving the district a 67 percent rating.

About three-quarters of students said they would recommend their school to a friend. About 81 percent and 93 percent of staff and parents, respectively, said they would recommend their school to a friend.

Although 93 percent of parents said their children were enthusiastic about learning, only 78 percent of students and 64 percent of staff agreed.

Staff members were critical of how well students were learning skills such as creativity, leadership and organizational skills, rating the district in the 70th percentile. Staff also rated the district low on professional development opportunities and accessibility to school zone managers.

About 9,900 staff members — teachers, support staff and administrators — responded to the survey.

The staff disagreed with parents and students when it came to whether their school was teaching students about becoming a responsible citizen. Although parents and students rated the district 95 percent and 87 percent, respectively, the staff rated the district a 77 percent.

Staff members were the most critical of the district when it came to shared decision-making. Just 71 percent of staff said they felt they were included in the district’s decision-making process when it came to school changes.

“We need to be more collaborative so that we can work on the things that are important to kids,” said Vikki Courtney, vice president of the local teachers union.

“This will be a focus area for us,” Clark County Schools Superintendent Dwight Jones said. “We want to ensure that teachers’ voices are heard.”

Ensuring collaboration will be key as the district rolls out new reforms, such as a growth model to measure student achievement as well as a more rigorous curriculum. Some grants — such as such as the district’s $40 million Race to the Top application — require support from the teachers union.

Courtney said the report was indicative of what she saw as low teacher morale across the district. The School District is demanding more of teachers while trying to negotiate contract concessions, she said.

“I think what this indicates is we need more resources, time and support from the district to help teachers do their jobs,” Courtney said.

School Board member Erin Cranor said she was concerned about how the district was supporting its teachers through all the reforms that have been instituted. It’s a difficult time across the nation to be a teacher, Cranor said.

“Teachers feel like they’re just being barraged (by the changes),” she said.

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  1. wizardofOz,

    I would be interested in knowing who paid for your 12 years of schooling and your parents and their parents?

  2. vegaslee:

    Given wizard's massacre of grammar, syntax and spelling it would be illustrative to delve into his educational "achievement[s]".

  3. This entire debate on both sides has been LOL.
    Soap Opera at its best -- Call Proctor & Gamble!

  4. What was the response rate on these surveys? Did a significant portion of staff (36,000) respond? Did a significant portion of students respond (300,000)? Did a significant portion of parents/guardians respond (600,000)?

    I have found with data like that presented in this article - is full of statistical anomalies because . . . lack of response rate.

    In other words . . . only a small portion of people are participating so it's not a true reflection in anyway of the reality. It only measures the opinions of those willing to participate. It actually disenfranchises many who did not have access to technology too.

  5. We continue to value numbers. Which can easily be skewed.

    The truth is teaching is an art not a science.

    The mission statement of the district is about educating students.

    Sometimes in the act of educating - people do NOT even realize how valuable a teacher is to their personal path until YEARS later. How many times have teachers heard: you were hard on me, and I hated you - but you prepared me and I thank you for caring enough to expect MORE.

    So I question whether a "popularity" survey should drive instruction at all.

  6. Ms. Sullivan,

    You being a teacher I would think you would read the article before commenting.

    I found the answers about response rate for each of your questions contained within the above article.

    "19,000 parents took the survey"

    "Nearly 129,000 students out of about 309,000 students in the School District responded to the survey."

    "About 9,900 staff members -- teachers, support staff and administrators -- responded to the survey."

    I can only assume you have access to a computer yet it appears as a teacher you did not take the survey by your responses posted here.

  7. Keeping in mind this is an election year, and the fact that CCSD is asking voters for money, what Commenter Tanker1975 stated, began to stir my thoughts, "While the numbers of responses from parents, staff and students is listed, one very important bit of information is missing. Did every school have respondents? Did the overwhelming number of responses come from 5 star schools? How many parents, students and staff responded from 1 star schools. How many of the staff responses were from school based personnel and how many were from district administrative staff? Until those numbers are given, I, for one, will view the information contained in the survey as suspect.
    Some other numbers to consider. Take a look at the online CCSD Administrative Phone book. Add up the number of people with the title Director, Coordinator, and Academic Manager. Then look at the online CCSD School phone book. It lists all of the principals, assistant principals, deans and office managers in CCSD. Using the Directors, Coordinators, and Academic Managers you can replace EVERY high school principal, EVERY high school assistant principal, and EVERY high school dean. You would have enough Dirctors, Coordinators, and Academic Managers to replace EVERY middle school dean and EVERY middle school assistant principal. You would still have some Directors, Coordinators, and Academic Managers left over to replace some of the middle school principals.
    How about these numbers. If you total the salaries and benefits from Transparent Nevada in 2011 for the 2072 names in the administrative phone book, the total is over $170 MILLION. That is 10% of the CCSD personnel budget for 2012-2013 school year. I think it is safe to assume that the salaries and benefits would remain the same if not increase. That is 10% of the budget for 5% of the employees. If you total the salary and benefit cost for the School phone book, it comes to over $110 MILLION for 1096 people. That is a total of 16% of the budget for just over 8.3% of the employees. The average pay and benefits for an individual on either of those lists is just over 88K. For comparison, a teacher with a bachelor's degree and maximum experience is around 57K including pay and benefits. A teacher with a master's degree and maximum experience is just under 72K counting pay and benefits. In order to get close to the 88K, would be a teacher with a master's degree with 32 additional credits, and at step 10 on the salary schedule.
    This is a link to the CCSD administrative phone book.
    This is a link to the CCSD school phone book.

    To put our minds to rest, it would be in the interest of all for CCSD to provide a breakdown where these survey votes came from. Inquiring minds want to know.

    Blessings and Peace,