Printer Friendly Format Email a Friend

PR- 325-07
September 6, 2007


Nearly 600,000 Parents, Teachers, and Students Respond to First-Ever Learning Environment Surveys, the Largest-Ever Collected by an American School System

Most New Yorkers Greatly Satisfied With Their Schools and Also Suggest Needed Improvements

Detailed Results for Each School Which Are Available Online Will Improve Accountability

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Schools Chancellor Joel I. Klein today announced the results of the City’s first annual Learning Environment Survey, which asked City public school parents, teachers, and 6th-12th graders to assess whether their schools were setting high expectations, communicating well with stakeholders, keeping students and educators safe, and creating effective environments for learning. Approximately 600,000 New Yorkers returned surveys—216,914 parents, 31,592 teachers, and 338,201 students, representing the largest number of constituent views ever collected at one time by an American school system to measure its effectiveness. Parents, teachers, and students were generally satisfied with the quality of their schools, but results also pointed to areas needing improvement, including the need for more effective communication and better ways of motivating students. The Mayor and Chancellor announced the results at PS 192 in Brooklyn’s Borough Park where they were joined by the Deputy Mayor for Education and Community Development Dennis M. Walcott, United Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, NAACP NYS Conference Metropolitan Council Regional Director Kenneth Cohen, and Principal Liset Isaac.

“During my career in business and in my time as mayor, I’ve learned that the more information any enterprise has, the more successful it can be in managing and fixing problems, and serving its customers,” said Mayor Bloomberg.  “That’s why last spring, we sent out Learning Environment Surveys to the school system’s three biggest stakeholders:  the teachers, the parents, and the students.  They have the best perspective on our reforms so it’s important we ask them just how well our schools are functioning. The results underscore our belief that although our schools have gotten much better over the past five years, we still have a lot more to do.”

“I’m thrilled that so many parents, students, and teachers took the time to tell us how their schools are doing,” said Chancellor Klein. “Gathering this unprecedented amount of feedback was just the first step. Using the reports we have provided today, our schools can analyze their results and make immediate improvements in how they help children learn.”

Schools received detailed survey results today, and both citywide and school-by-school results are available to parents and the public online at  Survey results will count toward the letter grade schools will receive this fall on their new Progress Reports.

“What teachers, parents and students think about their schools is a vital piece of data and it is important that it be part of the forthcoming report cards,” said UFT President Weingarten. “It shows that parents are happy with their kid’s teachers but that teachers’ voice in decision making is not what it should be. It also shows that parents, like teachers, want more robust course offerings, reduced class size and a stronger voice in the policy that affects their schools. Closer collaboration between principals, teachers and parents will move us towards these goals and greater student achievement.”

“This is wonderful news. We are happy we were able to help get the word out and assist families who filled out the survey last spring,” said Kenneth Cohen, Regional Director for the NAACP New York State Conference-Metropolitan Council. “The NAACP New York State Conference-Metropolitan Council thinks the results are tremendous for a first time survey. The results will give parents important information and help them get more involved in their children's education. We are looking forward to increasing outreach and participation in future years.”

This year’s Learning Environment Survey was the most extensive effort in the history of American education to gather community feedback about public schools and was one of the largest surveys of any kind ever conducted. Of 842,034 parent surveys that were distributed, 216,914 (26%) were returned. This response rate compares favorably with those of similar surveys, including the 26% response rate on Oakland, California’s 2006 Use Your Voice Parent Survey, the 7% response rate on Anchorage, Alaska’s 2006 School Climate Survey, and the 18% response rate on the old New York City Board of Education’s 2001 parent survey. Teachers returned 31,592 (44%) of the 71,091 surveys distributed to them. This compares favorably to those of similar surveys, including the 28% response rate on Oakland’s 2006 Use Your Voice Teacher Survey. Of 519,798 students in grades six to twelve, 338,201 (65%) completed surveys.

Generally Favorable Responses But Recommended Improvements

Parents, teachers, and students generally gave their schools high marks, especially in the areas of academic engagement, safety and respect. However, the results show that many schools need to improve their communication with parents and teachers, and that schools also need to do a better job of motivating students academically.  The widely varying results that similar schools received on these and other survey criteria give principals and school communities substantial guidance on strategies they can immediately borrow from to improve their individual school’s learning environment.

Key citywide findings from the parent surveys

  • 90% of parents were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of their children’s teachers
  • 84% of parents were satisfied or very satisfied with how well their children’s schools communicated with them, but 38% of parents said they were contacted by a teacher or other adult at their school once, twice, or not at all last year
  • Elementary school parents are generally more satisfied than middle and high school parents
  • 24% of parents said reducing class size should be their school’s top priority, while 45% of parents who said creating more or better programs should be their school’s top priority
  • 10% of parents called for more preparation for state tests, while 1% of parents said that schools should spend less time preparing students for state tests

Key citywide findings from teacher surveys 

  • 84% of teachers said they feel safe at their schools
  • 80% of teachers think their schools set high expectations for all students, and 80% of teachers say their schools set clear measures of progress for student achievement throughout the year
  • 67% of high school teachers say their schools make it a top priority to help students select the best courses to achieve their college or career goals
  • A majority of teachers feel included in decision making at their school, but significant numbers do not. For example, more than a third of teachers feel that their school leaders do not encourage open and honest communication on important school issues
  • 37% of teachers say that the professional development they receive does not help them better meet the needs of their students

Key citywide findings from middle and high school student surveys

  • 88% of students said their teachers encourage them to succeed
  • 51% of students said students who get good grades are respected
  • 67% of students said teachers in their school treat students with respect, versus 40% who said most students treat teachers with respect
  • 43% of students agree that most students in their schools help and care about each other, versus 74% of students who said most students in their schools just look out for themselves

Schools Progress Reports

Survey results, along with student attendance rates, will determine 15% of the letter grade each school will earn this year for the first time on its Progress Report. Every survey received will be factored into the Progress Report, with the views of parents, teachers and students counting equally in almost all schools. Every school will receive a customized report that includes response rates for each group, overall scores for each of four major categories—academic expectations, communication, engagement, and safety and respect—and scores for each question on all three surveys. The report will also show a comparison of the school’s performance with those schools that serve similar student populations.  Parents who attend fall Parent-Teacher conferences will receive summary survey reports on their schools along with their school’s Progress Reports.

Survey reports are designed to give school leaders and members of school communities the constructive information they can use to improve programming, attitudes, engagement, communication, safety, and respect at their schools. This year’s Quality Reviews will take into account how well schools use their survey results to make improvements.

The Department of Education will conduct the next Learning Environment Survey in the spring. To encourage even greater participation this year, most parents will have the opportunity to take the survey at their schools during spring Parent-Teacher Conferences. Additionally, District 75 parents, students, and teachers will participate for the first time using a survey developed based on their input. The Department also plans to expand the survey to include other school staff. All individual survey responses will continue to be confidential, with an external vendor collecting the surveys and calculating aggregate responses. No one at a school or the Department of Education will be able to see an individual’s answers.


Stu Loeser/Dawn Walker   (212) 788-2958


David Cantor   (Department of Education)
(212) 374-5141

More Resources
View the photos
Watch the video in dial-up or broadband