Charleston County School District parents and employees are increasingly satisfied with their schools and the district overall, according to district-commissioned surveys from the 2012-13 school year.
The school district has been tracking parents and employees’ feedback for the past two years as part of its Vision 2016 plan, which also includes financial and academic goals.
The district hired a company, the Studer Group, to do the surveys, and results showed progress in parents and employees’ scores since last year.
“It is excellent news, and I know the principals have really taken this seriously,” said Superintendent Nancy McGinley. “This has given them a real goal to shoot for, and great principals are competitive. We’re proud parents are happy because that means they think they’re getting value for their tax dollars, and that they’re treated well.”
Janet Pilcher, a consultant for the Studer Group, said few districts earned a 4 on the 5-point scale from employees, but the Charleston County district is doing so consistently. The participation rates and satisfaction scores have been improving, and the district’s leadership is committed to using the feedback to help it improve.
“We hold Charleston up as a model,” she said.
Still, the improving results appeared to conflict with the findings from a survey of teachers by the Charleston Teacher Alliance. The teacher advocacy group asked teachers about district and school leadership as well as their school climates, and responses were less positive.
Kent Riddle, a kindergarten teacher and chairman of the alliance, said its survey asked different and more district-specific questions than the Studer group survey, which could have been applicable to any district. The Studer group also took responses from all employees, not just teachers.
Still, some of the results seemed to correlate. On the alliance survey, the superintendent’s lowest rating was for seeking teacher input before making important decisions. On the Studer survey, employees gave the statement, “My principal/supervisor consults me on the decisions that affect my job,” one of their worst ratings.
In response, McGinley has mandated that every school have a faculty congress made up of teacher leaders and that it meet with its principal at least once each month.
“It’s a faculty leadership team so there is an opportunity for teachers to say ‘This isn’t working’ or ‘We’re confused,’” McGinley said. “It’s always been a goal but it hasn’t been a mandate.”
She said she also plans to visit more schools and ensure that associate superintendents are doing visits weekly.
Parents typically give higher satisfaction ratings than employees, and that held true in Charleston County. The district’s parent-satisfaction rankings were among the best compared to other districts doing this same kind of evaluation, Pilcher said.
Parents were least satisfied with the positive feedback on their children from schools. McGinley said teachers will be expected to do some sort of positive outreach to parents within the first 30 days this year.
“It’s not just about parent satisfaction,” she said. “It’s about parents and teachers having to be partners, and teachers have to establish a positive, respectful relationship with parents.”
Reach Diette Courrégé Casey at 937-5546.