When parents of Evanston/Skokie District 65 students come to their schools during the week of Feb. 13-17 for conferences with their children’s teachers, they will be asked to complete a 22-question survey to provide the board, administration, and teachers with feedback about their children’s experiences in the schools.

The district school board took the opportunity Monday night at its monthly “working” board meeting to review the survey questions, developed by consultant Paul Brinson in collaboration with school principals.

Computers will be provided at the conferences to enable parents to respond to the survey online.

In addition to the 22 questions, advisory teams from each school will have the opportunity to add up to 10 additional questions that pertain only to their school. Results of the survey will be made available to the principal, the school improvement team, and the advisory team.

A companion survey will be administered to teachers in May to provide additional data to aid in planning for the 2012-2013 school year. At Monday’s board meeting, teachers union president Jean Luft asked the board to involve the union in developing the teachers’ survey.

Some of the questions the parents will be asked on the survey next week include the following:

I feel welcome when I visit or call the school.

I am satisfied with the amount of information I receive from the school about my child’s academic progress.

The instructional programs at the school are managed to maximize learning time.

The school is well maintained.

For each statement, the parent will indicate whether they strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly disagree, or don’t know.

Parents with children in more than one school will have the opportunity to complete a survey for each school their children attend.

In other matters before the Board Monday, member Richard Rykhus asked that a discussion of the district’s bus service for students be placed on the agenda for a future meeting. Board President Katie Bailey agreed to place the issue either on the agenda for the full board or for its Finance Committee.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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  1. This is not a random sample

    This is not a random sample and the results will be skewed.  Since the conferences are not mandatory, those who self-select to participate in teacher conferences would not be a representative sample of parents in the district.  In addition, there may be response bias in that parents will be completing the surveys on school grounds in the presence of school staff (even though they are on a computer).  What a terrible way to collect data.

  2. Foster School

    Why is there not a question about reverting Foster School back to its intended purpose?  This option should be on the table.  Our taxpayer dollars funded the construction of that school and we should have the option to have it be a funcitoning school instead of building a brand new one!

  3. Confused…

    Wasn't there a similar survey sent out last year?  Didn't Paul Brinson used to work for District 65? Now he is a "consultant"….. I really don't understand how things get done in the district….where are the checks and balances…where is the leadership?

    1. The answer is “yes” to both

      The answer is "yes" to both questions.

      Paul Brinson was chief information officer for the district until his retirement last year, but he is still called upon to help with special projects because of his knowledge of district issues…a not uncommon practice by business and government organizations.

      1. Unfortunately Mr Brinson the consultant…

        … will probably be no more accurate with his information than he was as CIO for D65, when his 'data' were often hopelessly flawed.

  4. Not mandatory?

    ALL parents are expected to attend their child's conference in district 65. If a parent is told they do not have to attend that is a huge error on behalf of that school's administration. I can't believe that some schools would not tell parents to come in. All teachers in district 65 are expected to hold conferences for ALL of their students. Sounds like some principals or teachers need to be checked on!


    1. Focus on results and achievement

      Yes, ALL parents/guardians should attend their child's conference, but the question is how many do, and if they don't attend the conference why not? Has the D65 conducted an analysis about this topic? If so, can someone please share the results. Parental/guardian involvement is obviously critical to a student's achievement in school. If parents/guardians are NOT attending the District/Principal/Teacher should understand why. We can't and should not blame the parents/guardians, but we need to understand why, so appropriate support and interventions can be provided. Maybe parents/guardians don't understand the significance of these conferences and the important role they play in their child's education, maybe they work during the scheduled conference times, maybe there's a transportation issue etc. But non-attendance should be viewed as a major yellow flag by our district and additional steps and measures need to be taken.

      District 65 has historically done a good job of creating committees, hosting meetings, spending money and time, but not as focused on results and achievement. The recent additions to the school board appear to be changing and improving the direction and focus of the district, but more needs to be done.

      On a separate note – what expertise does Paul Brinson have in designing this survey? Survey design is a complex project and the questions asked, questions not asked, wording, how they're asked etc can lead to significant bias in the outcome. Yes, Mr. Brinson may know the D65 community, but does he know how to design an appropriate survey? Just wondering.

  5. We need more than a survey of the same old people

    I have seen the surveys for several years and nothing has ever changed in the way parent/teacher conferences are conducted with the exception to move them up to this arbitrary date.

    After 12 years in this district, I would love to see D65 really find a way to reach out to the homes of the kids that really need the conferences instead of seeing the same old people (who are always supportive of the school/class/teacher/student) and are always involved.

    The question here is HOW can the district encourage the link between the home where the parents are not as involved and the school and make it more convenient and clearer to those that choose not to go (for a variety of reasons).

    There is still a huge divide in this district…start there.  Start with someone who truly understands the dichotomy and find a way to reach out and close the divide. 

  6. No such survey found at Lincolnwood.

    I looked for the survey at Lincolnwood and only saw a teacher survey with about 5 questions about how the parent/teacher conference went. Teachers did not mention anything about the survey either. I only knew about it from this EvanstonNow report.

    Questions such as "The school is well maintained" or "I feel welcome when I visit or call the school" were not on the survey. I have some complaints but couldn't express them in a survey. There were not 22 questions in this survey.

  7. Survey

    D65 parents to be surveyed during conferences article is very informative article, I am to a great extent impressed with the article I have just read interesting very good.I read the free surveys article  I found and I bookmarked the site.

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