Statewide survey finds broad support for adding new elements to state accountability system
More than 6,500 parents, educators, community members and students responded to an online, voluntary survey conducted by the Delaware Department of Education between October 28 and December 31. The purpose of the survey was to gather input from the public on the design of Delaware’s new school accountability system, and it included questions about the academic characteristics of an “excellent” school, how the accountability system should be used, how school climate should be measured and how school performance should be represented as well as what the system should be called.
The response was the largest ever to a DDOE survey, showing the importance Delaware residents place on having an accountability system that accurately represents the performance of their schools and students. Parents made up about 40 percent of the respondents, teachers accounted for 20 percent, other educators 10 percent and students and community members the rest. As a group, the respondents to the survey were broadly representative of the state geographically and ethnically.
The Academic Framework Working Group, made up of a variety of representatives of school districts around the state, will consider the survey results in their recommendations. The working group “has the opportunity to ‘get it right’ when it comes to providing clarity about what matters most for our children and our schools with regard to accountability,” Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said.
The new accountability system will have two parts. Part A will include data on student proficiency, year-over-year growth in student achievement, college and career readiness, chronic absenteeism, and how many students are on track to graduate—all measures required to be reported by the federal government. Part B will include other elements that Delaware residents deem important.
“This is about providing relevant and transparent information so our families can make the school decisions best for their children,” Murphy said.
Nearly 90 percent of the respondents to the survey said it is very important for the state to include students’ proficiency rates as one measure in the new school accountability system it is designing. The DDOE’s preliminary analysis of the survey results showed support for:
· Reporting on academic measures beyond test scores such as literacy rates, graduation rates, graduates’ preparedness for postsecondary education and employment, kindergarten readiness and closing of the achievement gap, among other measures.
· Reporting on non-academic measures such as teacher attendance, parent engagement and the results of surveys of parents, students and teachers.
· Utilizing a letter grade rating system, such as A, B and C, as a way of quickly communicating a school’s performance.
· Using the accountability system as a tool for continuous improvement.
Topline results are below. The department, in conjunction with the AFWG, will complete its analysis of the survey and provide full results later in the spring.
In addition to fielding the survey, the department hosted four town hall meetings to gather public comments. The working group is expected to make its recommendations later this year, and the new accountability system will be in place for the start of the 2015-2016 school year.
2014 Delaware School Accountability Community Survey
1. Please categorize yourself by selecting one of the options below.
10% Other School Staff
15% Community Member
2. Academics – What do you think makes an excellent school? Please indicate the importance of including the following items in an accountability report. (1) Not Important; (2) Minimally Important; (3) Somewhat Important; and (4) Very Important: (Choose one rating per item.)
Percentage of respondents who rated each choice “very important”
· 76.4% Graduation rate
· 64.7% Post-high school education and training
· 41.5% Comparing schools against similar schools
· 56.8% Closing the achievement gap
· 51.4% Students who graduate with an industry-recognized credential
· 52.5% Students who graduate with college-level credit
· 88.3% Student literacy
· 62.4% Kindergarten readiness
· 64.8% Dropout rate
3. School Culture – What do you think makes an excellent school? Please indicate the importance of including the following items in an accountability report. (1) Not Important; (2) Minimally Important; (3) Somewhat Important; and (4) Very Important: (Choose one rating per item.)
· 56.2% School survey (parent perspective)
· 52.4% School survey (student perspective)
· 58.1% School survey (staff perspective)
· 69% Staff attendance
· 61.4% Parent attendance at conferences
· 47.4% Number of suspension and expulsions
· 50.3% Civic engagement
· 58.5%Social-emotional learning (i.e., teaching students how to handle their feelings)_____________________________________________________________________________________
4. How should our state report the performance of schools? See the example illustrations below and rank your preferences from 1 to 4.
13% Stoplight 46% Letter Grades 8.3% Symbols 32.8% Performance Rating
5. How would you use the school performance report card if it was accessible online? Please select from the options below (check all that apply):
☒To gather information about a school so that I can find the best educational opportunity for my child. 61.9 %
☒ To get a better understanding of how my school is doing (strengths and areas of growth). 76.4%
☒ To help plan for support/professional development for the school 44.2%
☒_ Other – please specify: _____________________________________________________________
6. What would you prefer the accountability system to be called?
· 36% Delaware School Accountability Framework
· 55.5% Delaware School Success Framework