Survey shows strengths, weaknesses
High marks were given for safety, access to tech and classroom space, middling marks for ‘overall satisfaction’
Much of the effort in Pottsgrove schools is geared toward giving and improving grades to students.
But a recent survey has students, parents, teachers and taxpayers grading the school district and the results are mixed.
Although a survey of the Pottsgrove community gave the school system high marks for security, access to technology and communications, scores for overall satisfaction hovered between a C and B-minus.
The survey was taken by 617 students, staff, parents and residents who responded to the 36-page, 32-question document.
According to a letter to the community from Superintendent William Shirk, the district scored well — between 85 and 91 percent — on subjects like keeping students safe, adequate classroom space, access to technology and communications.
However, asked to give a grade for “overall satisfaction” on a 100-point scale, responses among all those who answered averaged out to 73, even though the most common answer was 80.
The response of parents of current students averaged out to 76, according to Shirk’s letter which, along with the survey and responses, are both posted on www.pgsd.org — the district’s website.
Shirk wrote that as a result of the findings, the district will now focus on several areas of improvement. They include:
Communicating with non-parent residents;
Preparing non-collegebound students for careers after high school;
Asking for and responding to public input;
Preparing students to be successful in college;
Providing help for students who need extra academic assistance.
The largest number of responses — 450 — came from those between the ages of 35 to 64; and who have lived in the district for 11 years or more — 386.
More than 70 percent of the respondents rated the quality of the district’s K-2 education as excellent or good, but enthusiasm for the program’s quality dropped off steadily as the higher grades were considered.
Just over 43 percent of those responding rated the quality of Pottsgrove’s high school as good or excellent.
Perhaps of equal significance, nearly half the 426 respondents who have children in Pottsgrove schools, are parents of a high school student — 197.
Middle school parents represented 160 of the respondents, or 38 percent. Lower Pottsgrove Elementary had 157 parents respond and Ringing Rocks and West Pottsgrove had 75 and 55 parents, respectively, who responded.
Among the staffers, the vast majority who responded were teachers, with the high school and Lower Pottsgrove Elementary representing the highest number who gave answers.
And while the district got good grades for communicating with parents and students; the majority of the scores for communications with the public, asking for and responding to public input were in the “adequate,” “poor” or “don’t know” category.
Nearly 60 percent of the responders gave Pottsgrove high grades for maintaining high academic standards, but low marks for helping students in need of academic assistance.
The majority of survey responses indicated Pottsgrove either improved — 32.74 percent — or stayed the same — 34.2 percent — in the past few years.
Emergency procedures, calendar of events, general news of happenings in the school and academic data topped the list, in that order, of things respondents ranked as the most important.
And in a mixed result for this publication, although “reading the local newspaper” ranked lowest in the respondent’s regular methods of communication — when pitted against texting, Internet use on phones or tablets or Facebook — the vast majority of those who do read the paper (86 percent) said they read The Mercury.
Most respondents said they would prefer to get information about Pottsgrove from district emails, automated calls or their child’s teacher or principal newsletters — this despite the fact that nearly half the respondents indicated they do not subscribe to the email distribution list.
The district’s website was deemed satisfactory by most respondents.
The majority of survey responses indicated they are “very well informed” or “pretty well informed” about activities and events; policies and procedures; and their child’s academic progress in school.