Hartford Students, Parents Offer Different Perspectives On School Safety
Results of Districtwide Survey Released This Week
By VANESSA DE LA TORRE
March 07, 2013
HARTFORD — — Among the results of a recent school climate survey is that parents think city schools are safer than what their children believe them to be, district administrators said.
Hartford schools conducted anonymous surveys of students, parents and staff to get a pulse on the school system's strengths and challenges, and "measure the level of connectedness that students feel with their schools," according to a draft report released this week.
Whether a school has a "respectful climate," caring adults, high expectations for students and a safe environment are some of the areas that administrators say are crucial to school reform.
Overall, 50 percent of parents submitted surveys this winter that addressed those topics — up from 29 percent last school year, the first year of the survey — while participation rates for students and staff were at least 85 percent. Superintendent Christina Kishimoto told the school board Tuesday that this year's results should serve as baseline data for future surveys.
Adults and students in grades 5 to 12 used a 1 to 5 rating scale to answer questions, with 1 defined as "strongly disagree" and 5 as "strongly agree." Third- and fourth-graders answered "yes," "no," "sometimes" and "I don't know."
On school safety, which included questions about bullying, gangs and neighborhood violence, older students gave a 3.4 rating compared to parents' 4.2 and staff's 3.8 averages. Only 58 percent of younger students answered "yes" to whether they feel safe, 28 percent noted "sometimes" and 10 percent indicated "no."
Administrators said they were pleased that students gave excellent ratings on the subject of high expectations, but acknowledged they need to examine peer climate. Students were asked if classmates help and respect each other, and stop bullying if they see it. Seventeen schools scored unsatisfactory ratings below 3.0, according to the report.
The lowest was 2.5 among older students at Jumoke Academy Honors at Milner, a school in the state's Commissioner's Network.
Administrators said they also want to investigate why parent satisfaction was high — above 4.0 in all survey areas — even when their children attend Hartford's lowest-performing schools.
Board member Richard Wareing said the schools need to do a better job of engaging parents. Eleven schools, mostly high schools, did not get at least 30 percent of parents to participate in the survey.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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