Parents have until Friday to complete Harford school satisfaction survey

Harford County Public Schools is again conducting a parent satisfaction study through the school system's website, and interested parents have just a few more days left to participate.

"By completing the survey, parents can provide the school/school system with important information about how we can improve your child's educational experience," the school system noted in a recent memo to the media.

The survey, which is voluntary, is available on the home page of the school system's website at Paper copies can be requested from the child's school. This is the second year parents have been surveyed.

The parent survey began Jan. 7 and will be open through this Friday, Jan. 25. The survey takes about five minutes to complete, according to the school system, and one survey may be completed for each child that attends a Harford County public school.

The survey asks a series of eight multiple choice questions ranging from "I feel welcome at my child's school" to "The school has high academic expectations for my child" to "My child's school is clean."

Answer choices include: "Strongly Agree," "Agree," "Disagree," "Strongly Disagree" and "Does not Apply, Does not Know."

Teri Kranefeld, the school system's manager of communications, said there are three basic changes with this year's survey that were made after receiving feedback from parents and the school board on last year's survey.

Those taking the survey this year are being asked to identify a specific school, making it possible to aggregate the data so results can be discussed with principals and school improvement teams at each school, Kranefeld explained.

The "Does Not Apply/Doesn't Know" answer option also is new this year.

The parent survey this year is published in both Spanish and English. In addition, Kranefeld said, phone notifications made to parents about the survey were made in Spanish to 650 households with children in the school system in which one or more members speak Spanish as a primary language.

The school system also has been conducting a student satisfaction survey for a number of years, typically compiled in the spring. In addition to surveying students through the 11th grade, graduating seniors are asked to participate in an exit survey, Kranefeld said.

The results of this year's parents survey and last spring's student survey will be presented to the school board in February, Kranefeld said. In the future, she added, they plan to conduct the parent and student surveys at the same time, so the results of both coincide with the same school year.

The 2012 parent survey and spring 2011 student survey showed both groups were satisfied overall with their school's performance.

In addition, more than 91 percent of 4,644 parents who participated in the 2012 survey said they were satisfied with the school system's communication efforts about their child's progress.

Many students surveyed in the spring of 2011 gave low marks to their schools' cleanliness, a fact which caused concern for one school board member who said he believed a school's cleanliness affects student performance. About 90 percent of the school system's 38,000 students participated in that survey, according to school officials.

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