Most Parents Satisfied With Child’S School, Teachers

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Parents in the Payson Unified School District are most satisfied with the feeling of welcome when visiting their child’s school and least satisfied with the effectiveness of school principals, according to recently released parent satisfaction survey results.

This year’s parent survey added a new question about satisfaction with academic standards. This year’s results also offered a clearer glimpse of how much parents approve of schools within the Payson school district, with parents scoring each statement on a scale of one to five, instead of answering ‘yes’ or ‘no.’

Last year, school board member Richard Meyer urged the gradated responses instead of the previously used ‘yes’ or ‘no’ format. More available answers could provide more nuanced feedback, he said.

The results were broken down by school with graphs showing how parents answered, from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree.’

Payson Center for Success received the highest marks from parents on nearly every question asked on the 12-question survey, which was conducted in December and presented to the school board Monday. However, the school’s sampling is so statistically small that a percentage scale for parents’ answers from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’ weren’t provided, although the average score was.

Of the remaining schools, Julia Randall Elementary ranked second in most categories.

Superintendent Casey O’Brien presented the information during his usual update at a recent board meeting, though the board didn’t discuss discuss it. O’Brien said he received the results too late to put the topic on the agenda. The board might discuss results later.

Two versions of the results were published: one with the principal effectiveness results and one without them. The question was asked last year, but the results weren’t made public.

O’Brien said he doesn’t traditionally release the information because the survey responses affect performance pay for teachers, and including it would be unfair.

“I have that question really for my own purposes,” O’Brien said. The answers were also not provided to the board.

O’Brien said it wasn’t fair for principals to be compared in such a public setting. “I think it’s such an unfair microscope,” he said, “just to single out six employees.”

He added, “I don’t think that would be particularly constructive.” Principals compete more effectively in the realm of achievement data and overall school satisfaction, he said.

Judging by the average score, parents were most satisfied with JRE leadership, followed by that at Payson Center For Success. Payson Elementary School ranked third, followed by Rim Country Middle School and Frontier Elementary School tied for fourth. Payson High School ranked last.

O’Brien said elementary schools generally have higher approval ratings because parents feel more closely connected.

District wide, 8 percent of parents disagreed or strongly disagreed that their principals were effective and leading in the right direction. The question extracted the largest “neutral” response of those asked, at 22 percent, but represented the lowest-scoring question asked, with an average score of 3.81 on a score of 5.

The highest-scoring areas included satisfaction with academic standards, with 86 percent at least satisfied, the feeling of welcome when visiting a child’s school, with 92 percent at least satisfied, and having the opportunity to communicate with teachers, with 88 percent at least satisfied.

When asked if children had clear and fair expectations for student conduct, parents responded favorably, with 89 percent of parents at least agreeing.

Although the academic standard question featured the fewest number of parents strongly satisfied (19 percent), it also solicited the highest percentage of any question in those who were satisfied (67 percent.)

Parents were also generally pleased with the quality of instruction, with 84 percent at least satisfied.

Although having the opportunity to communicate with teachers ranked near the top in satisfaction, a question asking how satisfied they were with overall school and teacher communication elicited the strongest ‘disagree’ or ‘strongly disagree’ response, at 13 percent.

Whether teachers seek to meet students’ needs marked another low-scoring question, with 78 percent of parents at least agreeing, but a question about whether teachers care about the children garnered an 84 percent positive response. A question about ethnic and cultural diversity respectfulness elicited a 78 percent satisfied rate.

Overall, results mirrored last year’s. During the past year, schools have vamped up their Web sites, including more information about activities to improve communication. Principals have also begun posting newsletters online. Payson High School, and now Rim Country Middle School, began posting a daily briefing online.

The district contracted with Tucson-based Zimmerman and Associates, Inc. to conduct the survey.

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