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DAC survey shows parents satisfied with schools overall, giving noted areas of improvement

Parents shared how they believed improvements could be made in the district while taking the spring 2023 DAC parent survey. (Unsplash)
Over 320 parents participated in the survey, which was sent out in April

The Montezuma-Cortez district accountability committee has released the official results of a parent survey that was sent out to parents with children in the school district during April.

At the time, co-chairs Laura DeWitt and Monica Plewe said they hoped the surveys would help the district understand the wants and needs of parents of students in schools while helping parents feel heard by the ones educating their children.

In total, 332 parents gave feedback in the parent surveys.

“We hope that even more will respond when we send it out again in the fall,” DeWitt said.

Nearly 40% of respondents were parents of high school students and 30% were parents of middle schoolers. The rest of the respondents were made up of a mix of preschool, elementary and Southwest Open School parents.

According to survey results, parents were the most interested in how they can best support and encourage their children’s academic success.

When answering a question about how they liked to participate in their child’s education, 72% said they liked getting information from teachers, 67% said advocating for their child’s needs, and 66% said helping with their schoolwork at home.

Other answers chosen by parents included PTO/fundraising, volunteering at their child’s school, and giving input on policy, budget and the school’s improvement plan.

The biggest barrier to growing family engagement, according to the survey, is schedule conflicts, in which 56% of parents said schedule conflicts kept them from being more involved in their child’s education.

And 17% said it was because they didn’t feel welcome or that their opinions on their child’s education were valued.

The survey also showed that nearly 60% of respondents were interested in “how well my child’s school is meeting academic standards,” but only 24% of respondents said they agreed with the statement, “I know which areas the district has targeted for academic improvement based upon district/school improvement plans.”

About 71% of respondents agreed with “the school staff has a positive impact on my child.” Fifty percent of parents said school was doing a good job of preparing their students for the next step, and 46% agreed that they get as much information as they want and need regarding their student’s academic progress. Forty percent said they thought the school had effective two-way communication with district families, and 66% of respondents agreed with "my child is safe and welcome at their school.”

At the end of the survey, parents had the opportunity to participate in open-ended questions that allowed them to share what they thought the district was doing well and what they wanted to see improved.

The biggest identified area of improvement was better communication with the district administration, school board and schools in general. Many parents shared “specific instances of frustrating communication.”

Thirty-five percent of the positive responses were written regarding school staff.

Positive feedback was given in areas of staff, family involvement and some areas of communication

Needed improvements were in the realm of improved communication with the district, personnel turnover, the district and board relationship with parents, counseling availability, bullying and general frustrations with the Board of Education and superintendent.

“We are encouraged by the strong turnout and the areas of positive feedback,” said Jim Parr, director of Student Academic Services. We will be using this gathered information as a baseline and re-conducting the survey this fall to compare results and address overall trends for continued improvement."

When sharing the survey results with The Journal, the DAC said they hope the survey results can be used to partner with the district to continue working on improved family engagement.

Examples include asking schools to gain parent input as they develop and track improvement plans, sharing achievement data widely, looking for ways to support families in helping their children learn and advocate for their children’s needs, asking families what would help remove barriers to participation and listening to student and family safety concerns while taking steps to address these concerns so that “closer to 100% of students feel safe and welcome in their school.”

The DAC will send out another parent survey this fall.