Survey cites parent satisfaction

By Doug Snover  

Kyrene School Board President Rae Waters may be facing recall by parents upset by the board’s decision to radically change the middle school schedule, but a survey conducted by the district soon after the controversial schedule changes were approved suggests most Kyrene parents remain satisfied with their children’s education.

Asked to grade the Kyrene schools, the vast majority of approximately 8,300 parents of Kyrene students gave the schools an “A” or “B.” Only a few gave the schools a failing grade of “F.”

The annual survey of Kyrene parents was sent home with the district’s 18,724 students in mid-to-late May, according to Theresa Sweeney, director of curriculum and assessment. Approximately 8,280 surveys were returned.

That’s a huge increase over prior years when the surveys were mailed to parents rather than being sent home with students, Sweeney said.  In 2004, for example, only 1,882 surveys were returned.

The satisfaction surveys are used to track parents’ attitudes toward the district, their children’s teachers and general school issues such as safety, she said. The district develops a standardized survey and allows each school to add a few questions specific to its individual programs, she said.

The 2005 survey did not ask any specific questions about the controversial changes to the middle school schedule set to begin in the fall. Most of the questions covered elementary as well as middle schools.

Several questions about parents’ general satisfaction with the district suggest the schedule changes have not thrown most parents into a quandary, however.

One general question, for example, asked parents to respond to the statement: “The administration is responsive to my questions and concerns.”

Approximately 75 percent of the 8,244 parents surveyed agreed or strongly agreed with that statement, while just over 5 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. A surprisingly high 19.5 percent had “no opinion,” however.

Kyrene teachers also got a vote of confidence.

The survey asked parents to respond to the statement: “I think my child’s teachers are adequately preparing my child for the next grade level.”

Approximately 92 percent of the 8,280 parents agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. Less than 4 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed, and less than 4 percent had no opinion.

The criticism of the middle school schedule changes stems from the reduced focus on electives, or “exploratory” classes, such as music and performing arts.

In a question restricted to parents of middle-school students, the district asked parents to respond to the statement, “I am satisfied that the exploratory curriculum is appropriate for my child.”

Approximately 84 percent of the 3,243 middle school parents who responded said they agreed or strongly agreed with that statement. Only 4 percent disagreed or strongly disagreed. The remaining 12 percent had no opinion.