Survey helps TPS board in aim for compromise

By: 
MARY KAY McPARTLIN

Members of the Tecumseh School Board had a good idea what concerns Tecumseh Public School families had before the election in November 2018. To make sure and to fulfill a campaign promise, the decision was made by the board to have a survey done.

Jason Young, Ph.D., director of institutional research at Siena Heights University, was hired to create and administer the survey in early 2019. Parents and teachers with email addresses in the TPS system were sent a link to respond to the questionnaire.

“We wanted somebody independent from the school system to do the survey,” said Tim Simpson, president of Tecumseh School Board. “We sent it out to about three thousand people, and it was online. It’s a good sampling of what the community is thinking.”

The survey opened online with Survey Monkey on Monday, March 25 and closed Wednesday, April 17. With 1,014 responses, the response rate was 33.8 percent. The average response time by survey takers was almost six minutes.

The data provided by Young to the board was seven pages long and contained charts, graphs and comments of respondents to the survey. The questions asked for what academic practices should “START” and “STOP” within the district.

Because it was an open-ended survey, participants had different responses in answer to each question. The data provided by Young had for each question, the number of times an answer was given, the percentage of people who responded with that answer, and the “z-score” for each answer.

The z-score analyzes how strong an answer was for the survey. According to Simpson, any score above a three is “solid information” and reflects a majority within the community.

With the open-ended nature of the survey, the board will need to do a follow-up survey. The communication committee is working on the timing for the follow-up survey.

The top three suggestions of what people want to see START happening in TPS was listening to teachers for curriculum decisions, using a traditional letter system for grading, and having a qualified superintendent to lead the district.

The top three items of what people want to STOP happening in TPS was competency-based grading using a number system, constant changes in the district, and being led by an unqualified superintendent.

It was validation for the board that some of the work it had completed were the items of most concern for those filling out the survey.

“These are the results we expected,” said Simpson. “We weren’t shocked by it. It was what we heard running for the board. We really have to dive in now. No one wanted competency-based grading. We voted that out in April.”

The goal of the board and Greg Lewis, interim superintendent, according to Simpson, is to work toward compromise. “We ran into some roadblocks but now those are gone,” he said.

The plan for the school year with Steam centers is for students to work with teachers on four core classes which each last for 48 minutes. At the end of each day is 50 minutes of flex time that teachers can use in a variety of ways.

The flex time provides an opportunity for students and teachers to work together on Project Based Learning and incorporate what is being taught in the core classes. The students will also get to see how the material relates to real world problems and give them the opportunity to further understand the material. The goal is for students to become more immersed in a subject being studied.

“We are trying to get the best of both worlds,” Simpson said. “People understand that this is what the community wanted, they wanted a compromise and that’s what we are trying to do – find a middle ground. Greg worked with administrators and teachers to get a compromise. He got consensus from everybody. Greg also came up with different start times for the Compass building that will save us $43,000 in busing costs and allow sixth graders to participate in middle school sports. We are slowly and methodically doing what we said we are going to do.”

In looking at the survey information, Simpson hopes people will focus on the last two slides – the “old” way and the “new” way, and the role of teachers in the district.

“We are not going completely backwards,” said Simpson. “In my opinion we have the best teachers and staff, and our teachers and staff know how to deliver the material to the students. We have to make sure we are listening to our teachers. They know what works and what doesn’t.”

Results of the survey as well as the new schedule at Compass Learning Center will soon be available on the TPS website, tps.k12.mi.us.

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Tecumseh Herald

 

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