Survey of CCPS parents yields mixed results
ELKTON — Following a survey of county parents, Cecil County Public Schools is moving forward with developing a long-term strategic plan to improve communication with the community.
The Cecil County Board of Education first brought up the idea of a survey at its board retreat in 2016 as a way to see how well the school board and CCPS was communicating with county parents. The survey went out last May and June and, with the results now in, a committee will meet for the first time next month to begin developing a strategic plan.
While not all members of the committee have been named, it will include Associate Superintendent of Education Services Jeff Lawson, school board president Dawn Branch, CCPS Public Information Officer Kelly Keeton and Executive Director of Elementary Education Georgia Clark as well as teachers, administrators, parents and other community members.
The survey results will give the committee a good starting place as it showed that while CCPS is communicating relatively well, there’s still a lot of room for improvement, Lawson said.
“I think one thing we can go into this committee saying is that our communication isn’t broken,” he said. “It’s not a dire situation but certainly as we go through this, there’s some lowhanging fruit to set some goals.”
In order to reach the most parents, hard copies were sent to all homes in the county, which translates to about 10,000 homes. In addition, the survey was made available online through social media and school websites, Lawson said.
In the end, CCPS received 900 hard copy responses and 1,600 responses online, for a total of over 2,600 responses. That translated to about a 17 or 18 percent response rate, Lawson said. In comparison, the data service center with which CCPS regularly works does similar surveys for Delaware schools and only receives a 2 to 3 percent response rate, he added.
The survey found that 51 percent of parents didn’t attend a school meeting and 29 percent had not visited their child’s classroom at all last school year. However, as expected, the number of parents who visited their child’s classroom was much higher among elementary school parents than high school parents. Nearly 35 percent of elementary school parents had been to their child’s classroom multiple times compared to less than 10 percent at the high school level, Lawson said.
That disparity was also apparent when parents were asked whether they agreed or disagreed that their child’s school informs parents about resources and opportunities. While 33 percent overall strongly agreed, among high school parents this number was at about 23 percent compared to nearly 40 percent for elementary school parents.
In addition, 26 percent overall neither agreed nor disagreed, Lawson said. Similarly, when asked if they agreed that their school maintains current and relevant information on its website, 29 percent neither agreed nor disagreed. About 23 percent also had a neutral response when asked about whether they knew who to contact about serving on a school or district committee.
“That’s a kind of an ‘ eh,’ sort of response,” Lawson said of the neutral responses. “I would like to see that grow more toward the agree columns.”
The survey generated similar results when parents were asked about systemwide communication. About 58 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that CCPS communicates its mission and vision well and 56 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that the system maintains current information on its website and social media sites, Lawson said. But again, 30 percent and 29 percent of respondents, respectively, had no opinion, he added.
Parents also had a neutral opinion when it came to whether CCPS provides parents with opportunities to get involved, with the majority — 35 percent — neither agreeing nor disagreeing. Branch noted though, that it’s harder for parents to get involved once their child enters high school, particularly if their child isn’t involved in music or sports.
“It’s difficult for parents to transition from elementary to middle, middle to high school,” she said. “They don’t want you in the classroom helping out, they don’t need help opening their milk in the cafeteria, so there is just a natural change as they grow.”
The communication committee will come back to the board in the spring with a plan and Lawson said he would like to hold some focus groups as well. Eventually the survey will also be given again to gauge progress.