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Pinellas climate survey under fire again



black_cats.jpgWe know this is very, very serious. But doesn't it feel like the Pinellas school district's annual climate survey is snake bitbathed in 13 tubs of bad juju and doomed to have 666 black cats cross its path?

The new-and-improved survey went out to district employees this week - and it did NOT go off without a hitch. Some groups of teachers were left out. And many employees are grumbling that they did not have time to respond because the district gave them one day to do so (as opposed to many days in the past).

The criticism prompted Pinellas teachers union president Kim Black to raise the issue with Superintendent John Stewart, which apparently prompted a followup email to employees from the district's research and accountability department.

The email says an initial analysis shows a response rate of 36 percent this year with the one-day window, compared to 38 percent last year with a 17-day window. "We are seeing strong indications that the processes we had implemented were in the right direction," wrote Behrokh Ahmadi, the district's director for program evaluation.

"I still think it is wrong that those who did not have the opportunity to participate will not have an anonymous avenue for input into their school's performance and PSC overall," Black wrote in response, in an email to The Gradebook. "Every employee matters."

The district email also explains why some teachers were left out, and says the problem will be corrected for next year. Here it is in its entirety:

February 9, 2012




FROM:              Behrokh Ahmadi, Ph.D.

                        Director, Program Evaluation

                        Research and Accountability (R&A)


SUBJECT:        School Climate Survey 2012



We appreciate your interest in taking the Climate Survey and your feedback. We apologize if
you did not have a chance to provide us with your valuable feedback.

The goal of the climate survey is to efficiently gather valid and candid feedback about schools and the district. For the past several months, we have worked on improving the quality of the survey and the validity of the responses. The climate survey has been revised to facilitate working towards achieving this goal.  To mention a few changes, the survey is shorter and more polished. We also established a one-day window for participation; this is a valuable strategy used for survey data collection. We implemented communications about the upcoming survey; we used several avenues to do this. And we piloted the survey, its distribution, and the data collection in four schools; we had 49% return rates from the four schools in the pilot.

We have become aware that some of the schools' staff did not have the chance to respond to this survey. We have heard from staff directly or through the PCTA. We learned from the first year of this implementation and will improve upon it for future years.
On the positive note, we are seeing strong indications that the processes we had implemented were in the right direction; a cursory analysis of survey participation shows a return rate of 36% this year (with a one day open window), compared to 38% last year (17 days open window). We also have noticed a great improvement in the completion rate from 75% last year to 99% for this year.

Yesterday, during the data collection, we realized the elementary art and music staff are placed in a school by a district supervisor and do not have the school's cost center associated with them. We have used cost center as the criteria to select the staff.  As a result, some of school staff did not get the survey.  As much as we appreciate all staffs' responses, we could not change the process in the middle of data collection. This is something we are aware of in our
data collection and will correct for next year.

 Even though the survey is closed, we still can receive your comments through email.

Please forward this email to any staff that may have not received the survey or this email.

Thank you again for taking the time to provide your opinion. We hope to hear from you in the future.

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[Last modified: Friday, February 10, 2012 10:36am]


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