Sur­vey of CCPS par­ents yields mixed re­sults

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By JES­SICA IANNETTA jian­netta@ce­cil­

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.

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