Establishing the Baselines

Baselines:

Each of our priority areas of Wellness, Powerful Learning, Strong Partnerships, and Service requires baseline measurements. All, however, benefit from the measurements that we take through comprehensive climate surveying. We administered the New Jersey School Climate Survey in 2018 for the purpose of serving as a broad baseline measurement.

The New Jersey Department of Education developed the School Climate Survey in cooperation with Rutgers University. Our examination of the survey revealed that its instruments would align well to our strategic planning priority areas.

We administered the survey through Google Forms. Survey responses were anonymous. We invited parents to complete the survey via email, collecting responses throughout the month of November. Students completed the survey on November 7, 2018. Certificated staff completed the survey during department meetings in the last days of November. Non-certificated staff received emailed invitations to take the survey during that same time period.


Analysis took place in December, 2018. Each survey prompt offered four responses (e.g., “Strongly Agree”, “Agree”, “Disagree”, “Strongly Disagree”). We coded all responses as: Strongly Positive, Positive, Negative, and Strongly Negative.

We then assigned points across this scale, determining a mean score for each prompt in each instrument and noting the mean scores at which 25% and 50% of respondents reacted negatively. We then isolated the prompts at these levels to guide us in the development of planning priorities. See the Appendices for full survey results.


Fall 2018 Findings in Wellness:

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There is also a need to offer staff training and tools for de-escalation, self-regulation, and other elements of students’ emotional readiness to learn. In expanding this expertise, we hope to foster a culture that is focused more squarely on relationships and is more attuned to stress, anxiety, and other issues among adolescents.

We address these needs with significant strengths. Our survey revealed a strong commitment to student success on the part of students, staff, and parents. In addition, the people who come to work and learn at our school every day feel safety and belonging on our campus. The facility promotes collaboration and relationship, and the school inspires pride.


Fall 2018 Findings in Powerful Learning:

The student response in this priority area represented the largest negative response in the entire survey project. Many negative responses from students came from prompts asking them to consider relevance of and enjoyment in their studies. One of the prompts that elicited the most negative response from students, for example, asked them to consider whether or not their schoolwork was meaningful. For that reason, we see a pressing need for exploring deeper personalization of education so that schoolwork connects more squarely to student strengths and passions.

Negative response also spoke to a perceived lack of consistency across classes, and a lack of motivation among some students to do the best work possible. We therefore must examine our expectations for students, and ensure that they are consistent across classrooms and aligned to goals that engage students.

Negative response from certificated staff focused on time and support for collaborative work. In this, we see a need to provide more structure and space for educators to work together.

Staff, student, and parent commitment to success signals a strong starting position as we begin our work in Powerful Learning. Survey respondents also recognized our diverse offerings, our talented staff, and the resources the we offer to all to learn, work, and teach.


Fall 2018 Findings in Strong Partnerships:

Negative responses across all four survey instruments in Strong Partnerships focused primarily on communication and consultation. We must have broader outreach and invitation to ensure that parents, students, staff, and community members have full opportunity to understand and provide feedback on initiatives and decisions.

With this comes the need to reinvent our communications platform, expanding further into presenting media and opportunities to connect across multiple channels and networks.

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The student response in this priority area represented the largest negative response in the entire survey project. Many negative responses from students came from prompts asking them to consider relevance of and enjoyment in their studies. One of the prompts that elicited the most negative response from students, for example, asked them to consider whether or not their schoolwork was meaningful. For that reason, we see a pressing need for exploring deeper personalization of education so that schoolwork connects more squarely to student strengths and passions.

Fall 2018 Findings in Service:

As in Wellness, responses in Service signaled the desire for student-led activities designed to bring coordination and district-wide focus.

We also must offer more explicit service learning in courses, not just in extracurricular activities. That learning should be aligned to student strengths and interests, and teach the links to occupations to which students aspire.

As in Strong Partnerships, the survey results reveal a need to expand invitation and outreach. Indeed, these two priorities areas—Strong Partnerships and Service—present many opportunities for work that fulfills goals in both, particularly those goals focused on connection and communication.

Survey respondents indicated that Hunterdon Central has many of the ingredients of launching a successful campaign to integrate service learning. Members of our community form strong relationships with one another, believe in the best intentions of one another, and believe that our culture values difference, diversity, and collaboration.

Charts with detailed results from all respondents can be found in:

Appendix A: Fall 2018 NJ School Climate Survey.