Ferndale School District #502 | 6041 Vista Drive - PO Box 698 | Ferndale WA 98248 | ph. 360-383-9200 | fax 360-383-9201

Climate Survey Data Released

Release Date: April 22, 2011

Results of the staff, student and community surveys conducted in January have been received. Please view the summaries of each survey. A review continues of the hundreds of detailed result sheets. We anticipate these will be available in the coming week. Following is a message from the district's superintendent.

Dear Ferndale School Community,

Ferndale School District aims to work with families and our larger community to help each student develop the knowledge, skills and character he or she needs to lead a self-reliant, socially responsible life. It is important for us to measure our success toward this goal.

One way we are tracking our progress is by asking those who work in the school system, and members of the community, about the educational climate in our schools—which includes everything from academics, to satisfaction, to safety. In January 2011, more than 400 school staff members, 1,200 students and nearly 450 parents and community members completed an online survey, part of the district's new strategy focuses on greater transparency and collaboration with the community.

Many of the responses were very positive. For example, parents (91 percent) say they feel welcome in their child's school, and most (90 percent) report that their child's teacher is available when they have a question or concern. A majority of parents (87 percent) believe their child is safe at school. Among staff members, most (93 percent) feel a sense of belonging in their school or department and feel respected by their colleagues. Nearly all staff say that communicating with parents is important and that they believe all children can learn. Students say they feel safe at school and respected by teachers, administrators and office staff.

While the survey identified many strengths, we also have opportunities to improve. Parents say communication with teachers, particularly about what their child is learning, is a challenge. This was most often reported at the secondary level. Fewer than two-thirds of parents report that teachers share helpful comments on assignments and tests. This is a common challenge in school systems, but it suggests that teachers and parents need to share more information about student performance. We are looking at several ways to address this challenge. We believe we can make it easier for parents to access information about their student's schoolwork online. We are planning more curriculum information and homework help nights. We want to make sure parents always feel welcome calling or coming to see us about their child's learning, not just at conference time.

Although parents feel their child is safe, over 60 percent of parents perceive bullying to be a problem at their school—an issue the school district takes very seriously. Our high school has a contract system and counseling model in place to deal with bullying, and they are committed to doing more bully prevention education in the required freshman transitions class. Our middle schools have already implemented an anti-bullying program that includes a focus on cyber bullying, and they also provide separate counseling groups for bullies and victims of bullies. Officer Gamage provides classroom lessons on bullying and bullying prevention at the middle schools. We recently provided training to our elementary paraprofessionals on bullying, and our elementary principals are committed to finding a program they can implement in every school. In addition, this month we are working with local law enforcement to facilitate a community forum on this important topic.

While staff members overall report satisfaction with the school district, teachers, paraprofessionals, and support staff are less likely than administrators to give the district a grade of "A" or "B." There is also concern among paraprofessionals that they do not receive enough opportunities to develop their skills. We feel blessed to work with a group of people who want to learn more, and we have already begun to make plans to provide them with options for increasing their skills. We will begin this spring by surveying them about their needs and interests.

Only a third of staff members say they have access to "good" or "excellent" technology to support teaching and other job functions. Because we recognize the challenges related to maintaining and updating our technology infrastructure and, at the same time, continually improving our ability to use technology to enhance student learning, we are currently in the process of completely revamping our technology support system.

As a final example, the surveys told us that students at the secondary level are less likely than those at the elementary level to believe that their teachers know them well or that they receive the individual attention they need from teachers. While this is a common challenge at the secondary level, we are committed to trying to overcome the trend in Ferndale by working with each student to develop a high school and beyond plan, offering AVID and transitions classes, providing graduation coaches, and supporting a wide variety of extracurricular activities. The work we are doing to reestablish Windward and maintain Clearview as small high school options is also motivated by our desire to provide highly personalized educational programs for students on a choice basis.

You are invited to view the findings from the survey on the Ferndale district website at www.ferndale.wednet.edu. We also welcome all members of our community to join us in our efforts to improve our schools by participating in future surveys. This data becomes much more valuable as more people participate. We will do our best to continue to bring more people into the conversation. Later this spring, we will conduct a survey around fiscal and facilities priorities, and we urge all parents, community members and staff to participate.

Linda Quinn, Superintendent

For more information:
Linda Quinn, Superintendent, 360.383.9207
Tammy Bengen, PIO, 383.9207

FSD_Parent_Climate_Survey_2011.pdf214.27 KB
FSD_Staff_Climate_Survey_2011.pdf187.72 KB
FSD_Student_Climate_Survey_2011.pdf141.45 KB