New school survey sent to parents, teachers & students

The city is undertaking a colossal effort to understand how well its schools are serving students with a new survey that is being distributed to 1.8 million people, Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein announced on Monday, April 30.
Part of the mayor’s Children First school accountability initiative, the voluntary Learning Environment Survey will be used to gather and assess confidential information about school performance. Separate versions designed for each of three survey groups including parents, teachers and middle and high school students will ask participants their opinions on topics including safety, communication, engagement and expectations in schools.
“This is the most extensive effort in the history of American education to solicit a community’s ideas and views about their public schools and, as far as we know, it may be the largest survey of any kind ever conducted, besides the national census,” said Bloomberg.
Bright green envelopes containing the surveys and pre-addressed, postage-paid return envelopes have begun arriving at schools and homes. In addition to English, parent and student surveys are also available in eight other languages including: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu.
According to the Department of Education, parent coordinators will help encourage parents to fill out the survey - and will assist those with questions.
Community based organizations such as Friends of the Community Unite and Serve (F.O.C.U.S.) in Flushing have also gotten involved in the effort.
“It is crucial for the future of our children’s education that every parent fills out this survey,” said F.O.C.U.S. founder Grace Meng. “This is the first time that the Department of Education is conducting such a survey and our parents and teachers have a chance to speak out.”
The survey, whose responses will be collected by an external vendor to ensure confidentiality, also received support from the United Federation of Teachers (UFT).
“This learning environment survey is an important first step toward engaging parents, educators and students - the entire school community - in the most important conversation we can have: How to improve our children’s education,” said UFT president Randi Weingarten.
Schools will receive specific information from the surveys that will help them improve and the results of the surveys will be one component of the grades that will be given to each school in the new Progress Reports. Parents and educators will also receive detailed reports of aggregate responses.
The surveys should be returned by Friday, May 18. Parents and teachers can also complete surveys online by visiting www.schools.nyc.gov/surveys. For more information call 3-1-1 or visit the DOE web site at www.nyc.gov

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