In climate survey, Shawnee Mission parents say they feel like partners with schools — but concerns about technology, special needs emerge

Adequate support for the technology deployed throughout the district emerged as a common concern in the survey results.

Shawnee Mission School District parents generally feel connected and engaged with the schools their kids attend — but there are areas for improvement when it comes to classroom management, technology implementation and working with special education students.

Those were some of the takeaways from a cultural climate survey fielded to district students, parents and staff as part of efforts by the administration of new Superintendent Mike Fulton to identify the district’s strengths and opportunities as it moves forward with a sweeping strategic planning process.

Fielded to more than 6,000 respondents, the surveys set out to gauge perceptions of a number of variables at Shawnee Mission schools, from impressions of school leaders to safety to equity and diversity.

Coordinator of Assessment and Research Dan Gruman presented the survey results to the board of education on Monday.

In a presentation to the board of education on Monday, Coordinator of Assessment and Research Dan Gruman highlighted some of the key themes that emerged from the data.

Among them:

  • Parents seem to feel generally included in their children’s education and like there are open channels of communication between the school and community. Ninety-two percent of respondents agreed with the statement “I am a partner with the school in my child’s education”; and 91 percent agreed with the statement “Effective vehicles are in place for parents and community to communicate with the school.”
  • However, Gruman noted, responses to items about whether schools are doing all that they can to provide parents with ideas for continuing student learning in the home environment suggest room for improvement.
  • Respondents indicated that technology in schools is readily accessible and that students feel they have access to the information they need to complete assignments.
  • But a significant portion of respondents said there was not adequate or effective technology support available.
  • Training on how to incorporate students with special needs into the classroom was another major area for improvement. More than 50 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement “There is adequate professional development for teachers working with special education students in our school.”
  • Also of note, student respondents got less likely to agree with the statement “I like reading” as they advanced through the grades. Gruman noted that this trend is present in national survey data as well.

Fulton said that this year’s survey will provide a baseline and the district intends to field the survey again next year to see how perceptions may have changed. He indicated that the district would consider fielding the survey annually or every-other-year after that.

The full results document is available here.