FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 30, 2007
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND CHANCELLOR KLEIN UNVEIL FIRST-EVER CITYWIDE SURVEY TO LEARN ABOUT PUBLIC SCHOOLS
More Than 1.8 Million Parents, Teachers, and Students to Weigh In On Schools' Performance and Environment
Surveys Will Factor in Grades Given in Schools' New Progress Reports
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today unveiled the City's first-ever Learning Environment Survey, a new tool that will help the Department of Education gather and assess confidential information about how well schools are serving students. It represents the first time that the Department of Education will ask all 1.8 million parents, teachers, and middle and high school students-using three separate surveys-to give their opinions on whether schools are setting high expectations, keeping students and educators safe, and creating effective environments for learning. Schools will receive specific information from the surveys that will help them improve. The results of the surveys, which will begin arriving at schools and homes today, will be one component of the grades that will be given to each school in the new Progress Reports. Surveys are due back by May 18. Mayor Bloomberg and Chancellor Klein were joined at P.S. 76 in the Bronx by the Department of Education's Chief Parent Engagement Officer, Martine Guerrier; UFT President Randi Weingarten; Kenneth D. Cohen, Regional Director, NAACP NYS Conference Metropolitan Council; P.S. 76 principal, Louise Sedotto, as well as parents, students, teachers, and community leaders.
"For any successful organization, finding out what customers and users think works - or needs work - is key to improvement," said Mayor Bloomberg. "About 1.8 million people will receive one of these questionnaires - a population as big as the entire city of Philadelphia. This is the most extensive effort in the history of American education to solicit a community's ideas and views about their public schools and, as far as we know, it may be the largest survey of any kind ever conducted, besides the national census."
"Today, we are giving parents, students, and teachers an unprecedented opportunity: the chance to tell us if our schools are set up to help students learn and the chance to help us grade our schools," said Chancellor Klein. "Our ads say, 'When one parent speaks, schools listen; when one million parents speak, schools change,' and it's true. I'm looking forward to learning from our parents, teachers, and students. So, look for the green envelope, and fill out and return your survey."
"This learning environment survey is an important first step toward engaging parents, educators and students - the entire school community - in the most important conversation we can have: How to improve our children's education," said UFT President Randi Weingarten. "There was a good process for drafting the teacher survey and we had a lot of input, particularly in the area of protecting confidentiality. Surveys like this should be done not only here in New York, but all across the country as part of the changes that should be made in the No Child Left Behind law. The information that will be gathered is extremely important - but it must be valued and addressed. Listening is good; we have to make sure our voices are heard."
"This survey is one step in the right direction, and with the support of the NAACP New York State Conference - Metropolitan Council, we are reaching out to the communities we serve to encourage all parents to fill out these surveys and return them by the due date of May 18," said Kenneth D. Cohen, Regional Director, NAACP NYS Conference Metropolitan Council. "We have enlisted partners in this effort including churches, community groups, ethnic organizations, and immigrant organizations to assist in this outreach task."
The surveys focus on some of the key prerequisites to learning-safety, communication, engagement, and expectations. Together, these factors help create school environments that foster better learning. The parent survey asks parents to assess the classes and other programs their children's schools offer, how often they talk with their children's teachers, and how satisfied they are with the quality of education their children are receiving. The student survey asks whether the adults at their schools know who they are, if their schools set high expectations for them, whether schools are safe, and about the subjects being taught at their school. The teacher survey asks about school safety, if instructional materials are in good condition, and whether principals are supportive leaders and effective managers.
The surveys, which will be mailed in bright green envelopes, will begin arriving at schools and homes today. New Yorkers should return them by May 18 in the pre-addressed, postage-paid return envelopes that are provided. Parents and teachers can also complete surveys online by visiting schools.nyc.gov/surveys. Parent and student surveys are available in nine languages: Arabic, Bengali, Chinese, English, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Urdu. Elementary school parents will receive surveys starting today in their children's backpacks. Parents of middle and high school students will receive surveys through the mail. Students in grades 6 to 12 and teachers will receive their surveys at school. Parent coordinators will help encourage parents to fill out the survey-and will assist those with questions. Community-based organizations have also committed to helping get the word out about the importance of completing and returning the surveys.
Survey responses are being collected by an external vendor, assuring the confidentiality of answers. Parents and educators, however, will receive detailed reports of aggregate responses. This will help parents learn from their counterparts about schools, and it will help principals and other educators learn from members of their community about the effectiveness of individual schools. The results of the survey will also be factored into the "Learning Environment" section of schools' Progress Reports, planned for release in fall 2007.
The surveys are a key component of the Children First accountability initiative, which will give schools new tools and information and will hold them accountable for students' progress. Over the past four months, Department of Education staff met and talked with hundreds of educators, parents, and students as it designed the survey. For more information on the surveys, New Yorkers can call 3-1-1 or log on to the Department of Education's website at www.nyc.gov.
Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker (212) 788-2958
David Cantor/Andrew Jacob (Department of Education)
View the photos
Sample Teacher Survey (in pdf)
Sample Parent Survey (in pdf)
Sample Student Survey (in pdf)
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