A recent survey at Goetz Middle School in New Jersey shows parents are looking for improved communications with teachers, feedback that underscores the important connection between home and school.
Jackson School District Assistant Superintendent Nicole Pormilli explained to the Asbury Park Press that officials use parental surveys to gain insight into strengths and weaknesses in individual schools, and a recent poll at Goetz suggested ways to improve.
“Most recently, Pormilli said, the input gained from a survey showed parents were seeking more opportunities for communication with teachers and administrators, and a way to improve ‘climate and culture in the school,’” according to the news site.
The feedback prompted school officials to offer parent-teacher conferences at night, better promote back-to-school nights, and expand email contacts. Other survey results prompted an emphasis on “character education—social and emotional learning,” Pormilli said.
A strong connection between schools and parents is critical for not only students’ academic performance, but also their character formation. It may also relate to parental satisfaction.
The Asbury Park Press points to Parental Satisfaction Surveys conducted by Gallup every other year that show three-quarters of parents were “broadly satisfied” with the education of their oldest child in 2016, while about 36% were “completely satisfied.”
Those figures, which have remained fairly stable, include an interesting trend: 28% of public school parents were completely satisfied, compared to 62% of private school parents.
Gallup contends the difference is likely because “private school parents have made a deliberate decision about what school their child attends, and they are free to change it if they aren’t satisfied.”
“It may also reflect something unique about private schools, whether that be a high quality of education, smaller class size, more parent involvement or greater symmetry between the parents’ and school’s values,” according to Gallup.
James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, at the University of Virginia noted in The Tragedy of Moral Education in America:
Moral education can work where the community, and schools and other institutions within it, share a moral culture that is integrated and mutually reinforcing; where social networks of adult authority are strong, unified, and consistent in articulating moral ideals and their attending virtues; and where adults maintain a ‘caring watchfulness’ over all aspects of a young person’s maturation.
Family engagement will continue to be of central importance to schools, whether or not parents reflect it in surveys. The Virtual Lab School offers a family engagement framework for teachers and administrators that includes communication strategies and suggestions for working with military families, or those with special needs students and other challenges.