Parents and care givers are a vital part of their children’s education and so why are they excluded as important voices in any program and policy changes traditionally relegated to school leadership decision making? An ongoing global issue is how can educators improve the public’s attitude towards school effectiveness? The answer is by inviting parental and community feedback as a factor in implementing school program and policy change. One of the challenges in gaining parent and caregiver insight is the impression that families who are economically disadvantaged must work multiple jobs in order to provide for their families, so they cannot join these time-consuming parent “power groups”. Parent dissent regarding school achievement, practices, and teaching should be encouraged as a way to pursue improved approaches to education and to protect the wellbeing of children (Stitzlein,2015).
New York City educational policy makers decided that parental and community voices needed to be included to assess public school improvementand to keep schools truly public in their urban environment.In 2017, New York adopted the Great Schoolsdigital survey that allows parents and care givers to rate their children’s schools. These digital surveys with their interpretive rubrics allow schools to become more aware of their educational quality from parents’ and caregivers’ points of view. This Great Schools survey promotes input on “rigorous and engaging curriculum aligned with common core, research-based instruction, resources to support goals and needs, positive and inclusive culture, assessment for practices and instruction, goals and actions shared by the communities, and teacher collaboration.” Completing this digital survey with its rubric allows schools to become more aware of their school’s educational quality from parents’ and care givers’ points of view by sharing These voices and opinionsin order to help improve school quality, parent school satisfaction, and student educational experiences (Stitzlein, 2015). As for economically disadvantaged families, Great SchoolsNYC identifies children or populations who are being overlooked or harmed by school practices, and seek the perspectives and input of their families to help remedy the situation, offering the survey both online and by mail. (Stitzlein,2015).
This study used the Great SchoolsSurvey for New York City database from 2017 and 2018.36 District Two public schools were partitioned by area in New York including Upper East Side, Chelsea, Financial District, Greenwich Village, East Village, Chinatown, Lower East Side, Midtown, Tribeca, and Roosevelt Island. The digital survey uses a standardized rubric containing six categories: Rigorous Instruction, Supportive Environment, Collaborative Teachings, Effective School Leadership, Family/Community Ties, and Trust using a rating score of 1-4. This survey is standardized and measures all schools fairly and equally because parents respond to same questions. In addition, the data are analyzed ensuring the accountability & dependability of the results. To observe parental/care giver impact for change between the first survey year and the second, an average score from all the questions in each category were analyzed from 2017 and 2018. Also, to further contextualize the findings, demographic data were collected from the New York City School’s Report Card, with particular focus on the percent of students who are economically disadvantaged and who have disabilities to support data analyzation.
After analyzing the data, the results revealed that the scores were higher in every category from 2017 to 2018 supporting the statement that parents’ feedback does impact schools and, thus, parents and care givers were more satisfied with school policy and programs. In 2018, 47% of schools had more parents who took the survey, 70% parents reported stronger family ties, 55% of parents rated their caliber of rigorous instruction higher, 30% of parents rated their collaborative teachers higher, 50% of parents rated a more supportive environment, 33% of parents rated better school leadership, and37% of parents rated more trust. As for those schools with the highest economic disadvantage had the highest number of parents answer the surveys, 91% of economically disadvantaged schools had at least 60% of parents answered compared to 54% of economically advantaged schools.
Thus, based on the results of this comparative survey, parental feedback, regardless of economic status, does positively impact school policy and practice changes. When parents and community members are provided a forum to express their opinions and feel more respected and invested in school decision- making, schools improve. Based on these findings, schools should not only make changes internally, but also schools must reach out to the other change makers, such as parents and caregivers, to voice their opinions about the schools in their children’s lives.
As for my experience I learned so much as a researcher. I found the best mentor I could have asked for who guided and supported me through the various roadblocks we encountered, including changing our whole project and direction. I felt like I was lost and she helped our project and me tremendously to head in a new direction. I was determined to be the first Pace NYC School of Education pair to participate and compete, but I was motivated to put my best effort out there and I was so lucky to find a mentor who shared in my determination and enthusiasm. As a researcher I feel like I have grown working with someone so experienced at hitting road blocks and learning how to get around them. Through this experience I have learned to manage my anxiety a little better when things go wrong, how to analyze results by looking for patterns and connections, and how to formulate findings into something people think is important. As a researcher I feel more confident and defiantly want to continue doing so.