2008-07-18 / Top Stories

DOE Learning Environment Surveys Released

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein have announced the results of the City's second annual public school Learning Environment Survey. The survey was initiated last year to help schools improve by asking parents, teachers, and students in grades six through twelve to assess how well their schools were serving them. This year more than 800,000 parents, teachers, and students- one in ten New Yorkers- returned surveys weighing in on their schools, nearly 220,000 more responses than last year. The results show that schools have improved their communication with parents and teachers, are creating more personalized instruction for students, and are more effectively promoting a culture of safety and respect. Although parents, teachers, and students remain generally satisfied with the quality of their schools, the results indicate the need for continued improvement in several areas, especially student motivation and engagement. The Mayor joined the Chancellor at the High School of Applied Communications in Long Island City to announce the results of the survey- which, along with attendance, determines 15 percent of the letter grade on each school's progress report.

"Asking the people you serve to tell you what you're doing well and what you could do better is one of the most effective ways to improve, as this year's Learning Environment Survey demonstrates," said Mayor Bloomberg. "The responses schools received last year from parents, teachers, and students guided schools in making improvements, which helps explain why all three groups reported greater satisfaction this year. Now, the voices of even more teachers, parents, and children will help our schools make even greater strides in the coming school year."

"I'm thrilled that so many more parents, teachers, and students participated in this year's Learning Environment Survey," said Chancellor Klein. "Their feedback will help schools serve students as effectively as possible. We've made the survey reports easier to understand this year, and are releasing the results earlier in the summer so that school communities can use them as they plan changes for next year."

This year's Learning Environment Survey once again ranked among the largest surveys of any kind ever conducted. Overall, 806,539 surveys were returned out of 1,473,832 that were distributed - an increase of 219,832 compared to last year. The overall response rate rose 14 percentage points, from 41 percent to 55 percent.

Of the 866,919 parent surveys distributed, 347,829 were returned - 130,915 more than last year. The response rate among parents rose 14 percentage points, from 26 percent to 40 percent. The parent response rate rose especially sharply among the 200 schools with the lowest response rates last year. After receiving additional outreach support this year from the Department of Education, the average parent response rate at these schools more than doubled from 15 percent to 38 percent.

Of 79,336 teacher surveys that were distributed, 48,002 were returned - 16,410 more than last year. The response rate among teachers rose 17 percentage points, from 44 percent to 61 percent. Of 527,577 students in grades 6-12, 410,708 completed a survey - 72,507 more than last year. The response rate among students rose 13 percentage points, from 65 percent to 78 percent.

Parents' satisfaction with their schools was very high last year, and it rose even higher this year. Ninety-four percent of parents were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of their child's teachers, compared to 90 percent last year. Ninety-two percent were satisfied or very satisfied with the education their child received this year, compared to 88 percent last year. More parents were satisfied or very satisfied with how well their school communicated with them - 89 percent this year, compared to 84 percent last year. And 91 percent of parents were satisfied or very satisfied with their opportunities to be involved in their child's education, compared to 86 percent last year.

Teachers reported that their schools made improvements in the areas of communication and safety. Eighty-five percent of teachers said that school leaders made clear what is expected of them, compared to 79 percent last year. Seventy-four percent of teachers said that order and discipline are maintained at their school, compared to 64 percent last year. Teachers also reported a greater focus on personalized instruction for students: 82 percent said that their school makes it a priority to help students find the most effective way to achieve their learning goals, compared to 73 percent last year. Forty-two percent of teachers strongly agreed with that statement, compared to just 25 percent last year.

Most students continue to feel that their school holds them to high standards. This year, 92 percent of students said they need to work hard to get good grades at their school, compared to 95 percent last year. More students reported feeling safer in hallways, bathrooms, and locker rooms at their school - 72 percent this year compared to 68 percent last year. However, the student results also reveal the need for continued improvement in the areas of motivation and engagement. Just 53 percent said that students who get good grades at their school are respected by other students, compared to 51 percent last year. Almost 40 percent of students do not feel that their school offers a wide enough variety of classes and activities to keep them interested in school.

Schools are receiving their survey results two months earlier than last year so they can incorporate this concrete feedback into their summer planning for the 2008-09 school year. The DOE will also launch a new online tool in the coming weeks that will allow schools and the public at large to compare each school's results with those at other schools based on a variety of factors. This tool will make it easy for

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