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Fairfax County Public Schools Trust and Confidence Survey Results November 15, 2011

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Fairfax County Public Schools Trust and Confidence Survey Results November 15, 2011. Survey objectives. What is in this report?

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Fairfax County Public Schools

Trust and Confidence Survey Results

November 15, 2011

survey objectives
Survey objectives

What is in this report?

This report highlights findings from an online survey distributed to parents of Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) and non-parent taxpayers of Fairfax County via the public library database. The survey is a snapshot in time of general perceptions of FCPS and will be carried out annually.

What are we trying to explain?

This survey had four sequential objectives culminating in determining the overall level of trust and confidence of parents and non-parent taxpayers in FCPS.

  • Access to the information provided by FCPS
  • Level of understanding of the information provided by FCPS
  • Agreement with decisions and decision-making process made by FCPS
  • Overall trust and confidence in current decisions and future decisions to be made by FCPS
survey methods
Survey methods

What were the respondent characteristics considered in this survey?

  • Parent or non-parent identification
  • If parent, then level of school of current student
  • Geographic residence (by zip code)

How were the questions developed?

The questions used to measure overall trust and confidence were derived from best practice surveys used in public school districts combined with tailored questions from the Department of Communications and Community Outreach (DCCO). The resulting multi-item scales meet the conventional standard for reliability. The scale used included: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree, Don’t have enough information to make an assessment.

Questions on the extent of access of information

  • I receive the information I want or need about the school system
  • I receive specific information regarding FCPS’ progress towards meeting its goals and priorities
  • I am informed in a timeline manner of major decisions made by FCPS
  • Extent of access to various sources of information

Questions on the level of understanding

  • The district has made progress in students’ academic skills
  • The district has made progress in students’ gaining essential life skills
  • The district has made progress in students’ understanding of their responsibility to the community

Questions on the level of agreement

  • FCPS is providing students with the right education for the 21st century
  • The quality of education has improved in FCPS over the past 2 years
  • FCPS respects the cultural diversity of students and their families
  • FCPS is innovative
  • FCPS school system leaders make decisions that reflect the community’s values

Questions on the level of trust and confidence in FCPS

  • FCPS principals and asst. principals are effective instructional leaders for teachers and staff
  • FCPS teachers are effective in preparing students for the future
  • FCPS operates in the best interest of all students
  • School system leaders make decisions that are fair for all students
  • FCPS manages its budget responsibly
  • Extent of trust in information sources
  • FCPS is a trustworthy public institution
survey respondent data
Survey respondent data
  • The survey was distributed via the following sources:
    • Parents: 5,000 individual randomly selected emails
    • Library Patrons: 150,000 individual emails
  • Other categories: former parent, private school parent, alumni of FCPS, parent of future student, grandparent or student of FCPS
  • 8 parents responded to the Korean-language survey
  • 29 parents and 2 non-parents responded to the Spanish-language survey
table of contents
Table of contents
  • Trust in Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Information that supports trust
    • Access
    • Understanding
    • Agreement
  • Focus group comments
fcps is a trustworthy public institution
FCPS is a trustworthy public institution.
  • Parents:
    • 81% agree / 10% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 63% agree / 10% disagree
fcps is providing students with the right education for the 21 st century
FCPS is providing students with the right education for the 21st century.
  • Parents:
    • 80% agree / 14% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 55% agree / 11% disagree
fcps teachers are effective in preparing students for the future
FCPS teachers are effective in preparing students for the future.
  • Parents:
    • 81% agree / 14% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 54% agree / 10% disagree
fcps principals and assistant principals are effective instructional leaders for teachers and staff
FCPS principals and assistant principals are effective instructional leaders for teachers and staff.
  • Parents:
    • 69% agree / 14% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 39% agree / 12% disagree
fcps operates in the best interests of all students
FCPS operates in the best interests of all students.
  • Parents:
    • 64% agree / 28% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 46% agree / 21% disagree
table of contents1
Table of contents
  • Trust in Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Information that supports trust
    • Access
    • Understanding
    • Agreement
  • Focus group comments
i receive the information i want or need about the school system
I receive the information I want or need about the school system.
  • Parents:
    • 87% agree / 10% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 54% agree / 18% disagree
i receive specific information regarding fcps progress towards meeting its goals and priorities
I receive specific information regarding FCPS’ progress towards meeting its goals and priorities.
  • Parents:
    • 67% agree / 23% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 29% agree / 33% disagree
i am informed in a timely manner of major decisions made by fcps
I am informed in a timely manner of major decisions made by FCPS.
  • Parents:
    • 76% agree / 16% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 34% agree / 29% disagree
what information would you like to receive about fcps
What information would you like to receive about FCPS?
  • The majority of respondents wanted more information around the district’s focus and practices around Standards of Learning (SOLs) and testing
  • The next most common requested topic was details around FCPS’ curriculum choices
  • Other topics of interest for more information were (in order of frequency):
    • the School Board
    • Student performance / grades / achievement
    • FCPS Budget
    • Discipline policies
    • Principal decisions
    • Superintendent / central office
    • Diversity / minority-related issues
    • Technology use
table of contents2
Table of contents
  • Trust in Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Information that supports trust
    • Access
    • Understanding
    • Agreement
  • Focus group comments
the district has made progress in students academic skills
The district has made progress in students’ academic skills.
  • Parents:
    • 58% agree / 15% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 39% agree / 10% disagree
the district has made progress in students gaining essential life skills
The district has made progress in students’ gaining essential life skills.
  • Parents:
    • 51% agree / 20% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 29% agree / 15% disagree
the district has made progress in students understanding of their responsibility to the community
The district has made progress in students’ understanding of their responsibility to the community.
  • Parents:
    • 56% agree / 18% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 29% agree / 15% disagree
table of contents3
Table of contents
  • Trust in Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Information that supports trust
    • Access
    • Understanding
    • Agreement
  • Focus group comments
  • Appendix
the quality of education has improved in fcps over the past 2 years
The quality of education has improved in FCPS over the past 2 years.
  • Parents:
    • 39% agree / 28% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 21% agree / 15% disagree
school system leaders make decisions that are fair for all students
School system leaders make decisions that are fair for all students.
  • Parents:
    • 55% agree / 33% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 36% agree / 25% disagree
fcps manages its budget responsib ly
FCPS manages its budget responsibly.
  • Parents:
    • 55% agree / 20% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 39% agree / 20% disagree
fcps respects the cultural diversity of students and their families
FCPS respects the cultural diversity of students and their families.
  • Parents:
    • 86% agree / 6% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 61% agree / 4% disagree
fcps is innovative
FCPS is innovative.
  • Parents:
    • 66% agree / 20% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 49% agree / 12% disagree
fcps school system leaders make decisions that reflect the community s values
FCPS school system leaders make decisions that reflect the community’s values.
  • Parents:
    • 62% agree / 21% disagree
  • Non-parents:
    • 43% agree / 17% disagree
table of contents4
Table of contents
  • Trust in Fairfax County Public Schools
  • Information that supports trust
    • Access
    • Understanding
    • Agreement
  • Focus group comments
parent focus group comments
Parent Focus Group Comments
  • What are the strengths of FCPS?
    • Safe, clean schools
    • Good education and dedicated teachers
    • Substantial resources for students
    • Great reputation within Virginia and nationally that draws exceptional parents and students to the district
    • The district feels welcoming to new parents
  • What are the areas of improvement for FCPS?
    • Concerned that FCPS is becoming a business and not a community-parent based institution
    • Some initiatives go under the radar such as the decreasing honors programs in the district
    • Too much trimming on the budget and parents do not know how decisions are being made on these items (this includes the thought process for and not only who is making decisions)
    • Schools are not being treated equally in terms of funding, programming and class-sizes
parent focus group comments1
Parent Focus Group Comments
  • What are the characteristics of a trustworthy school district?
    • Transparency and accessibility
    • Strength of teachers
    • Team environment
    • Respect from the top all the way to the teacher level
    • Honesty – be open about what is not working so parents can engage in developing solutions
    • Parents must feel like valued partners
  • Parents feel that trust in FCPS comes largely from great student outcomes derived from great teachers and a rigorous education
  • Impressions on general access to information
    • Information is not always user-friendly: There is a lot of information being distributed but does not allow the average parent to easily understand the big picture, the current news or the most relevant issues
    • Many invitations to meetings but it is unclear whether the topic would be of interest to a particular parent
  • Access and understanding of budget and student achievement in FCPS
    • Parents know they have access to budget information but are not equipped to understand the information
    • FCPS only communicates the positive information on student achievement but parents want to hear about the challenges and the solutions
    • Regarding student goals: had not heard of the specific goals before but can see how those goals are reflected in the curriculum
business and community r epresentatives focus group comments
Business and Community Representatives Focus Group Comments
  • What are the strengths of FCPS?
    • Parents are educated and engaged
    • FCPS has the necessary resources to be successful
    • Advanced academic program which draws great parents
    • Special education services are also strong
    • Wonderfully talented students, teachers and parents
  • What are areas of improvement for FCPS?
    • Responsiveness to requests for data and district-level issues
    • This may not be able to change but FCPS is constrained by the state in terms of innovation and choice
    • Trust between parent groups / teacher groups and the district. Also, district trust IN parent and teacher groups to be representative.
    • The district is too centralized when parent populations want more differentiation (of students and of schools)
    • Demand to be heard is a lot higher at FCPS than in other districts
    • FCPS needs to look at stakeholders as decision-makers too which can prevent a lot of the parent reactive backlash
    • Lack of understanding and lack of consistent messaging causes a limited sense of credibility of central office
business and community representatives focus group comments
Business and Community Representatives Focus Group Comments
  • What makes a trustworthy public school district?
    • Open dialogue and true collaboration
    • Concessions are made by the district and is therefore representative of cooperation
    • Follow-up with parents and community members
    • Good communications
  • Trust in FCPS comes because stakeholders know FCPS operates with good intentions but they would like to see a greater effort in engaging in meaningful dialogue with community groups
  • Impressions on access to information
    • There is a high level of information being distributed but limited understanding therefore groups are creating and sharing their own interpretations which can lead to widespread misunderstanding
    • It is hard to find specific information when you need it
  • Access and understanding of budget management and student achievement
    • Unclear how specific management decisions were made concerning the budget on specific programs
    • Most parents don’t need details, they need to know what the return on their investment is and how their money is being invested
    • Achievement has not improved because class sizes are increasing across the district
    • Advanced programs have been watered down as more and more students are involved limiting overall achievement
    • The district has left out the “middle” students: provides great support for special needs and academically advanced but no supports for the middle and they are falling behind
fcps teachers and employees focus group comments
FCPS Teachers and Employees Focus Group Comments
  • What are the strengths of FCPS?
    • Exceptional special education programs
    • Great programs for academically advanced
    • Professional development for teachers is very high
    • Focus on lowering class sizes and increase staff at high risk schools
    • Cluster-level information and support
  • What are the areas of improvement for FCPS?
    • Schools need updated technology especially to support a 21st century education
    • Too much emphasis on Standards of Learning (SOLs) as a primary indicator of student success
    • Achievement gap still exists despite efforts to eliminate it
    • Not everyone has a pre-K foundation and therefore are further behind at the start and continue to fall behind
    • Little understanding of how budget decisions are made especially with regards to certain programs
    • Parents have a low level understanding of curriculum and academic achievement levels and
fcps teachers and employees focus group comments1
FCPS Teachers and Employees Focus Group Comments
  • What makes a trustworthy school system?
    • Focus on teacher development (professional development)
    • Professionalism from every level (central office, school level, teachers and parents)
    • Consistency of communicated priorities and visible practices
    • A consensus on the goals for the school district – if it is to eliminate achievement gap then community should be prepared to align financial resources to this goal
  • Staff believe that trust in FCPS comes from its commitment to support and develop staff but believe greater consistency in messaging could increase overall trust
  • School-level engagement of parents and communities
    • Schools conduct surveys of teachers, students and parents on specific issues as needed
    • Instructional committees at schools often have parent participants
    • Parents are involved in principal selection so there is a high level of accountability to the community
    • Most parents ask about:
      • Discipline issues and policies
      • International Baccalaureate programs
      • Extra-curricular program information
      • Concerns about “regular” programming – that money is being invested in advanced programs and remediation programs but is consistently taking funds from support to regular programs
takeaways from the survey
Takeaways from the Survey
  • We now have a baseline to measure against.
  • Strong trust from parents and non-parents on FCPS:
      • As a trustworthy public institution
      • Providing students with the right education for the 21st century
      • Teachers effectively preparing students for the future
      • Respecting the cultural diversity of students and families
  • Parents receive the information they want or need about FCPS
      • Parents trust FCPS, their local school, friends/neighbors
      • Non-parents trust the Washington Post, friends/neighbors, FCPS
      • Parents feel informed on major decisions in a timely way
takeaways from the survey1
Takeaways from the Survey
  • We have opportunities to inform in several areas:
      • Principals’ and assistant principals’ role as instructional leaders for teachers and staff (50% of non-parents indicated not having enough info)
      • FCPS’ progress on three student achievement goals (more than 50% of non-parents and 26% of parents indicated not having enough info in each of the three areas)
      • How the quality of education has improved in FCPS over the last 2 years (64% of non-parents and 34% of parents indicated not having enough information)
      • How FCPS manages its budget responsibly (42% of non-parents and 24% of parents indicated not having enough information)
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