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SC Meeting: October 4, 2022

At the October 4 School Committee Meeting, there was a discussion of the 2022 District Survey Results, and approval of the FY24-28 Capital Improvement Plan Requests. This was a shortened meeting in recognition of the Yom Kippur holiday.

Consent items (all unanimously approved without discussion).

  • Minutes of the Meetings of September 6, 2022 and September 20, 2022

  • Approve Boosters Club 2022-23 Budget

  • Accept Boosters Club 2021-22 In-Kind Donations

  • PTC FY 2022-2023 Budgets

  • PTC 2021-2022 In-Kind Donations

2022 District Survey Results

Toward the end of the 2021/22 school year, Needham Public Schools administered a district-wide survey to garner feedback from parents, students and faculty. They used a nationally normed survey from Panorama Education. The survey is an important engagement tool for NPS, providing insight into district strengths and areas in need of improvement. Diane Simmons, Director of Community Planning and Engagement, presented key findings to the School Committee and discussed how those findings will be used to support FY23 district priorities.

  • There was a high response rate with 1,847 Parents (33%), 3,246 students in grades 3-12 (81%), and 616 faculty and staff (72%) providing responses.

  • Panorama has a national benchmark data set against which Needham’s results were compared. This benchmark data set includes 380 districts, with over 4800 schools and students.

  • Questions in the survey were chosen to align with the priorities set forth in the district’s FY2022 plan.

Key Survey Findings (detailed survey results can be found in the SC packet)

1) Priority Addressed – Are students drivers of their own learning?

  • Self-Management (how well students manage their thoughts emotions and behaviors). Casel SEL program is used district-wide, and the survey results indicate how well that program is currently working in Needham schools.

    • Students rated this highly favorable. However, teachers rated this not favorable.

    • Based on the national data set from Panorama, Needham student responses were in the top quartile nationally, with 82% responding favorably in elementary and 84% at the secondary level. However, faculty response was much lower, with only 59% satisfactory rating. This indicates a need for further work in this area for students.

    • Self-management covers items such as keeping temper in check, allowing others to speak without interruption, and paying attention and resisting distraction.

    • Based on the faculty responses, the district can make changes to further help students with self-management under the SEL program.

  • High academic standards (parents were asked -- how high were the academic standards for your child in the past school year)

    • There was a lower favorable response than in prior years. Historically favorable response was between 85% - 92% (except for pandemic years, in which these questions were not asked). In 2022 favorable response decreased significantly to 59%.

    • These questions measure parents’ perception of the district’s success in adhering to its unwavering dedication to high academic standards

    • NPS will continue to communicate actual student academic progress and look to see how parent perceptions change in post-pandemic world.

2) Priority Addressed – Are all students experiencing integrative teaching and learning?

  • Diversity & Inclusion. Reinforces the district’s commitment to equity and inclusion, and being proactively anti-racist. Covers topics such as: 1) how people feel about access to opportunities to learn about people from different races, ethnicities or cultures, and 2) how confident respondents are that adults and students are having honest conversations about race.

    • A coalition of educators, parents, students and community members already met back in June for a half day workshop to take a deep dive on these findings and to discuss how to apply them for meaningful change.

    • 57% favorable response rate, which indicates room for improvement. Favorable rate varies among grade levels, racial groups and for students who are Boston residents, with some groups as low as 27% favorable and others as high as 70%.

    • Faculty and staff typically had a lower favorable response rate than parents and students (in grades 3-5) in this area.

    • However, students in grades 6-12 had the lowest favorable response rate at 49% overall, and just 24% with respect to student comfort and confidence about having difficult conversations about race.

    • Results indicate there needs to be continued dedication to embedding inclusive practices and equity into curriculum and expanding, for example, the high school’s CCR program (Courageous Conversations on Race).

3) Priority Addressed – Are all students learning and growing within adaptable environments?

  • School Climate. Measures student/parent/faculty perception of overall social and learning climate in Needham schools.

    • Parent and student ratings were more favorable, falling within the 60th-70th percentiles nationwide (with high school students at the top in the 90th percentile nationwide for favorable responses).

    • However, faculty and staff were much less favorable, falling in the 20th percentile nationwide. While the faculty/staff rated trust in teachers and confidence in student-teacher relationships high, there was a much lower favorable outlook with respect to colleagues’ outlooks and willingness to support new initiatives.

    • The faculty response was a 10-15% drop from pre-pandemic years, which is likely driven at least in part by the difficult years teaching during the pandemic. The district will be watching this metric closely to determine how best to support faculty and staff.

4) Priority Addressed – Does the Infrastructure support the needs of all students?

  • Professional Learning. Staff perception of the amount and quality of professional development/growth and learning opportunities available.

    • The district is in the midst of exploring which key skills, attitudes and knowledge faculty and staff need for their future and how best to support them in implementing the district’s plan.

    • The survey collected information on the amount and quality of professional development and professional growth and learning opportunities available to faculty and staff. This is important data as the district is currently devising and implementing a professional learning framework and this data will inform those decisions.

    • Faculty and staff indicated they find many rich learning opportunities from colleagues and from working at the schools. However, they do not find the professional development opportunities offered to be relevant or to provide meaningful growth.

    • The district has solicited open-ended responses from faculty and staff regarding suggestions for professional development and how to improve it, and will be incorporating those responses into the professional development curriculum it is developing.

What’s next? How will the survey results/data will be used?

  • Move from understanding to action in district-wide efforts to support all students.

  • Analysis by sub-groups is ongoing and will inform practices and interventions.

  • Data will be used at a classroom level, school level, grade level, etc. to assess students, teachers or other groups. There are myriad different ways to use the data to make positive change/movement going forward. School improvement plans will likely pull from this data as well.

  • Results are being used for putting committees together and for committee discussion (for example, the social emotional learning committee launching next week and their partner committee, the district mental health team). Committees will use the data to help determine how to move forward and which programs to implement.

  • Diana Simmons met with each school principal to discuss the survey results, and ways to use the data to implement programming and other positive changes. This data will be brought to the PTC presidents as well.

  • The district is committed to honoring the voices of the respondents. This data is viewed as a gift and will be incorporated into school planning and practices.

School Committee members and Ms. Simmons had an active discussion regarding the 2022 survey findings.

Action Items (all items unanimously approved following short discussion)

  • FY24-28 Capital Improvement Plan (which was discussed at the prior meeting)

  • Student Music Trip to Washington DC

    • Dr. Gutekanst commented that he supported the proposal and that this will be the first large-scale interstate trip post-pandemic and a pilot for future trips. Planning is tentatively underway for an international music trip and other travel opportunities.

School Committee Comments

  • Michael Greis acknowledged the high school soccer captain being in the news.

  • Alisa Skatrud acknowledged the support of the community for the schools through the PTC and the impact this has on the schools.

  • Michael O’Brien thanked teachers, principals and others at the schools for everything they do, including a successful curriculum night and start to the school year. Feedback from community members has been favorable. Seconded by Michael Greis.

The next School Committee meeting will be October 18 at 6:30pm.


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