Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What the DCPS satisfaction survey can tell us about school safety in Ward 1

It should come as no surprise that where you go to school can color how you think about things.   This is the case when it comes to school safety.

Nearly 20,000 parents, students, faculty, and staff participated in a SY 2008-2009 DCPS/Westat school satisfaction survey whose purpose was to identify areas of improvement and to use as an accountability and progress measure.   Areas asked about included safety, family and community engagement, leadership, and teaching and learning.   The report compares findings from the SY 2007-2008 survey.

Violence is unfortunately an issue for too many of DC's youth.   How young people think about school safety, then, is important.   A comparison of the citywide and Ward 1 secondary school findings is shown in the table below.   The good news is that students in three of the four secondary schools in Ward 1 feel safe in their schools.   The not-so-good news is these same Banneker, Columbia Heights Ed and Shaw students do not feel as safe out of school as they do in school, particularly when compared with their peers across the city.   Of course, the Cardozo results are not a surprise.   We owe it to all students to improve safety in and around schools, particularly those who are most threatened.

What we -- school stakeholders, elected and appointed officials, advocates, students -- do with this survey information and real life experience is the question.   There are very real public policy and practice challenges associated with "fixing" this problem.   Some in the community advocate for law and order kinds of solutions while others seek solutions that are less punitive and more in the rehabilitative and supportive realms.   No matter which solutions are chosen, the public should use the survey results as DCPS plans to:   to assess progress and identify areas of improvement.

DCPS is reporting the results in a variety of ways.   Users can find citywide reports as well as summaries for elementary and secondary schools.   DCPS is also reporting results by school:

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