We all know that school has been very different this year. While digital learning has been a change from what we are all used to, there are some things about it that are similar to in-person learning. This year’s DWS takes into account these differences and similarities by adding and removing some questions, but many remain the same. We will provide additional guidance within the survey about how respondents should think about the questions this year. By keeping the surveys as consistent as possible, we are able to maintain its validity and reliability as a longitudinal tool. Additionally, many of the key topics measured in the survey, like leadership and instruction, have remained central to the experiences of students, parents/guardians, and school staff.
District-Wide Survey FAQs
The four surveys (student, parent & guardian, teacher, and principal) measure five key constructs, or topics, related to school improvement:
- Climate: Areas affecting the school environment: perceptions of trusting and respectful relationships, student safety and support, and challenges to student learning.
- Instruction: Student engagement and how students, parents/guardians, and teachers feel about the quality of teaching and learning at their school.
- Leadership: How school leaders manage their responsibilities, communicate, and perceive their level of autonomy.
- Professional Capacity: How school staff work together, the quality of professional development, and the level of support for improvement and innovation provided to teachers and staff.
- Parent/Guardian-Community Ties: How schools reach out to and communicate with parents/guardians, what parents/guardians think about these efforts, and how parents/guardians are getting involved with their child’s education.
Additionally, each of the five main constructs is comprised of sub-constructs that can be used for a closer look at specific areas where leaders and stakeholders might target their attention. For many (but not all) constructs, the surveys ask similar questions of multiple respondent groups (e.g., teachers, students, and parents/guardians) to allow comparison of different views.
The surveys are based on research on effective schools and school reform, particularly the extensive work done by Anthony Bryk and his colleagues (2010) at The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. The surveys were developed by the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE), as part of Shared Solutions, the first formal researcher–practitioner partnership between SDP and Penn GSE. Through multiple rounds of focus groups, item testing, and cognitive interviews, stakeholders played a critical role in determining the questions included in the survey, the language used, and the methods of distribution.
Surveys are available to students in grades 3-12 attending District public and charter schools, as well as parents and guardians, teachers, and principals. In 2020, ORE will pilot survey administration to school counselors, nurses, secretaries, and other full-time support staff. The surveys open each year in the spring.
The surveys are a way for us to know what we need to change, but the results also help us understand if changes have happened and if they were in the right direction. We have collected some of the ways that principals and people who work at the District have used the surveys and posted them here on our website. Another purpose of the surveys is to provide more information to the public about each school, which is included on the School Profiles.
Because the surveys are confidential, we never follow up with any individual person about their survey responses. If you are a parent with a particular issue that you need to speak to someone about, please visit FACE’s Concern Resolution website.
Here at 440, we work with different offices to help them understand the data and use it to plan next steps. For example, each year we meet with the Office of Food Services to look at how students have responded to questions about school lunch. We also encourage principals to follow up by using survey data in their annual school plans.
One of the ways that we emphasize the importance of the survey is by including the parent response rate on the School Progress Report. Each year, schools are scored on how well they are doing. One way to earn points is by getting a high response rate to the parent survey.
We have also worked with FACE and their staff to create resources for schools, like a Tips & Strategies sheet and flyers translated in multiple languages. You can find those here on our website.
We also send letters home to families letting them know about the survey and how to take it. Starting in 2018-19, we also provide incentives for taking the survey. Once parents complete the survey, they can enter a raffle to win a $25 gift card.
Another thing we do is communicate with the Assistant Superintendents, who are in charge of the principals, every week during the survey window. We tell the Assistant Superintendents which schools are doing well and which schools need help getting parents to complete the surveys.
The best way to explore all of the survey feedback is on our District-Wide Survey results website. This interactive site allows you to see how parents responded to every question on the parent survey. To look at responses to individual questions, you should select “Question Explorer” from the blue bar on the top of the web page. You can look at responses from all parents across the District overall, or you can select a particular school. Another way to look at survey feedback on the website is to select “Topics” from the blue bar on the top. Here, you can see, on a scale from 1-10, the overall score for feedback on each topic.
To view results by school, you may want to review our two-page school reports that summarize the survey data for each school.
Yes. You will need your child’s student ID, which is printed on their report card. You can also ask your child, as they may know their student ID as their lunch ID, or call your child’s school. If you access the survey from your parent portal, these IDs are automatically populated.
The confidentiality of your responses is of the utmost importance to our survey efforts. All survey administration and analysis follows The School District of Philadelphia’s Survey Code of Ethics.
Surveys provided in other formats (e.g., paper copies) are administered according to strict guidelines to ensure confidentiality as well.
Click here to find two-page summaries of survey results for every participating school. Data are only reported for schools that meet minimum response thresholds. For student surveys, the minimum number of responses per school is 50 students or 25 percent of the student body, whichever is greater. For parent/guardian surveys, the threshold is 10 percent of total enrollment or 25 parents/guardians, whichever is greater. For teacher surveys, a minimum of 20 teachers or 25 percent of total teachers per school must respond. Principal survey results are only presented in aggregate.
If you visit our Survey Archive page, you can access hard copies of all District-Wide Surveys administered to parents/guardians, teachers, students, and principals since 2014-15. Please note that the parent survey should not be copied for distribution. If your school needs paper copies, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will not accept paper surveys that have been photocopied.
The live response rate tracker removes duplicate responses (based on student or teacher IDs) but otherwise includes all responses. We do additional data cleaning after the surveys are closed (for example, we remove responses from students who were not enrolled during the survey window); as a result, the numbers in the tracker may differ from final response rates.
The last page of the parent survey can be printed as evidence of completion. There is space for the parent or guardian to enter their student’s ID again to identify the student/parent. This page does not include any survey questions.
To protect confidentiality, the Office of Research and Evaluation does not disclose who has or has not taken the survey. However, parents may choose to make this disclosure themselves by printing the last page of the survey.
Yes, although parents are only eligible to win once.