The people have spoken, and now it’s time to listen.
Near the end of every academic year, parents and staff are issued two surveys. One focuses on their experiences with Oxford Schools overall, and the other deals with building-level experiences. Just after this semester’s classes kicked off on Aug. 27, board of education officials went over the district-centric survey at the Aug. 28 meeting.
At the board’s Oct. 9 meeting, Deputy Superintendent Ken Weaver debriefed the building-level surveys with trustees.
“All of the buildings addressed the survey results with their staff” Weaver said.
Between 15 and 30 percent of parents took the survey from each school, according to Weaver. Though the number seems small, Weaver said it was enough to make the data statistically relevant.
Oxford Elementary School (OES)
For OES, responses were overall positive with 74 percent saying they would recommend the school to family and friends. Parents also said they were happy with school communication.
As far as worries, parents showed concern regarding safety. On the curriculum front, 43 percent of parents disagreed their children’s classwork related to real life.
These results left school administrators focusing on how they can communicate school safety procedures to parents and illustrate how International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, which Oxford uses, works to relate to real life.
Daniel Axford Elementary
Daniel Axford’s approval was noticeably high, with 100 percent of participating parents saying they felt the school set high expectations and felt encouraged to attend school events. Parents also said they thought school staff was “great” and welcoming, and they felt secure with school safety.
Participants said they want to see more frequent feedback on how students are doing, which included a request for more parent-teacher conferences. Parents also said they wanted to see the school continue to focus on its students’ safety.
Clear Lake Elementary
Those who took Clear Lake’s survey expressed contentment with school staff and the way students were treated. Participants were particularly impressed with the school’s special education program.
Concerns came mainly from the building’s quality. Worries included building maintenance and the quality of recess equipment. One suggestion was that administrators take a look at more indoor recess options and increased recesses during the day.
Like many of the other schools, participants were overall impressed with the teachers and staff at Leonard. One thing that excited parents was the curriculum and a feeling that what the students learn in the classroom will benefit them in real life. Parents also felt students were being given “high learning standards.”
With Leonard being a smaller facility, worries included the parking lot and class size. Air conditioning and technology were also areas parents would like to see improve. With these critiques in mind, administrators want to communicate to parents improvements resulting directly from their input.
Lakeville survey-takers were impressed with staff and teachers at Lakeville, 91 percent of them calling the school “good” or “excellent.” Parents felt the school was particularly welcoming and said family involvement at the school was important.
Parents suggested receiving more consistent communication and hearing more about “best practices” when it comes to teaching. There was also a feeling that Lakeville needed to offer more clubs and after school programs to its students.
Oxford Middle School (OMS)
With OMS being a secondary school, students were also issued a survey. Though student participation was low, their responses were taken into account. Students desired more timely and in-depth feedback from their teachers as well as more real life connections to their course work. But, students felt supported by their teachers at school and thought they were getting a high-quality education.
As for the parents, their responses related to those of the students, with an overall contentment with the quality of education, but a desire to see more timely and in-depth feedback on course work. Parents also wanted more opportunities to be involved with the school.
Oxford High School (OHS)
OHS had a lower participation size, with administrators taking note of there being particularly small minority input. While participants seemed happy overall with the school and teaching staff, parents wanted to see more timely and improved feedback given to students.
Since the sample size was so small, administrators worried there may not be enough feedback to draw conclusions from. Along with many of the other schools, administrators suggested brainstorming ways to increase participation and make parents feel comfortable taking the survey. Administrators also want to be seen as more available to the community and reach out to get feedback from minority students, staff and parents.
Oxford Virtual Academy (OVA)
With the nature of OVA being all online, Weaver said participation was understandably smaller. Parents who did give feedback were pleased with the program, noting contentment in “academics, rigor and personalization” of the curriculum. Parents wanted to see teachers giving them more feedback on their students and more opportunities for the students and parents to be involved, which they hope could create a sense of “connection.”
Oxford Schools Early College (OSEC)
OSEC feedback indicated parents thought the quality of education was “excellent.” Parents wanted to see more safety awareness in the school and an increased opportunity for students to participate in collaborative and group work during their classes.
Oxford Crossroads Day School
Crossroads’ feedback primarily came from students, as the school’s nature can call for minimal or no parental involvement. Students said they were pleased with the staff and felt their teachers genuinely cared about them. Their most notable concern was the quality of food they’re served throughout the day.
For the parents who did take the survey, they said they would like more opportunities to be involved in their children’s education.
Oxford Bridges Academy
Student input on Bridges was overall “very positive.” Student’s main concern revolved around student respect of teachers, teacher respect of students and respect of others’ property. The school is working this year to improve this through an online suggestion box-esque program.
Parents showed concern on getting shared responsibility with their children’s education and improved communication from teachers. Teachers, on the other hand, wanted more parent participation when it came to things like curriculum night.
Overall, approval of the district and its schools were slightly higher than the national average on a scale of one to five with most of the schools falling in the middle. When the survey rolls around this academic year, administrators and the board of education will be looking at ways to increase participation from parents, noting that the feedback helps and leads to real change.
“I think it probably has to do with the fact that was send the district survey out at the same time,” Weaver told the board. “That’s something I’ve learned from all of this… to do one (survey during) one month, and another the second month so that (parents have enough time), because it is a lot of questions.”