How are Philly School Experience Survey Results Used?

There are many ways to use results from the Philly School Experience Survey (PSES) to identify needs, monitor progress, and plan next steps! The examples below show how PSES data is used by District offices, schools, partners, and community members.

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District-Wide Examples

PBIS – targeting supports, progress monitoring, evaluation

The Office of Climate and Safety uses the PSES results to support schools implementing Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS). PBIS coaches are particularly interested in responses to questions about behavior, school discipline, and trusting relationships. Questions on the Teacher Survey like, “I have been adequately trained to manage student behavior effectively” and “My school does a good job of addressing disciplinary challenges proactively,” help PBIS coaches identify which schools need more training/support, and within schools, whether certain grade-level teachers feel more confident than others. PBIS coaches can use this information to support networks/schools/grade-level teams that need additional support and also to build off of successes that already exist in a school community. Similarly, questions on the Student Survey like, “I am treated with respect by other students,” and “I feel safe in the hallways and bathrooms,” help PBIS coaches and schools understand the success of their efforts in implementing PBIS from the student perspective, and can identify a clear place to focus next steps when the survey results do not reflect school or district expectations or goals. The Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) uses responses as a source of information about the success of the implementation of PBIS in different types of schools and school settings. Survey results are incorporated into any analyses of changes in school-wide climate measures.

Teacher Professional Development – identifying needs, monitoring progress

The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) uses responses to the professional capacity construct on the teacher survey to monitor and adapt their approach to district-offered professional development. The professional capacity construct includes questions about innovation (“I am encouraged to try new teaching approaches in my classroom”), peer collaboration (“How often do you observe other teachers’ classrooms?”), quality of professional development (“Teacher input is taking into consideration when planning district-level/school-level professional development), consistency (“My PD activities are integrated/linked with my daily lessons), content (“What topic areas have you/ would you like to receive?), and delivery (“My PD activities and periodic follow-up throughout the year). District-level, network-level, school-level, and grade-level teacher responses are used to track the success of PD approaches and to inform planning, policies, and supports each year.  

Supporting English Learners – identifying needs, providing supports

The Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs (OMCP) works with more than 15,000 English Learners (ELs) who represent more than 130 countries and speak more than 100 home languages. OMCP staff review the responses of English Learners in the areas of school climate and instruction to better understand the networks/schools where they work and to have conversations with principals and other staff about supporting English learners. Questions on the Student Survey like “I believe I can learn whatever is taught in my classes,” and “I can do even the hardest homework if I try” provide information to teachers, principals, and central office staff about EL student experiences and perceptions. OMCP staff also review the teacher responses related to English learners in the areas of instruction, professional capacity, and parent-community ties to identify areas of need and customize supports for schools.

Health and Wellness – examining trends, targeting supports, evaluation

One goal of the Eat Right Philly program is to encourage students and schools to make healthy choices. The Eat Right Philly team uses questions on the student survey like, “During the past 7 days, how many days were you physically active for at least 60 minutes?” and “Yesterday, how many times did you drink any soda, punch, fruit-flavored drinks…,” to examine trends in healthy behaviors over time as well as to identify which schools and areas could use additional support. The Office of Research and Evaluation partners with Eat Right Philly to produce “School Health Snapshots” for each school that summarize available information about health and wellness, including responses to relevant PSES questions. School staff and external partners use the information in these snapshots to prioritize health and wellness strategies and to monitor progress.

The parent/guardian survey also includes a set of questions on food insecurity, which are used to determine an overall rate of food insecurity for each school with sufficient responses. The Office of Research and Evaluation publishes regular reports analyzing trends in food insecurity at District schools. Food insecurity datasets are also available separately on the Open Data website.

Food Services – customer satisfaction

The Division of Food Services is responsible for providing daily meals to all students in SDP. Each year, staff review results from the student survey to track trends in customer satisfaction and identify areas for additional support and improvement. Questions on the student survey that help inform these decisions include “When I eat school lunch, the food tastes good,” “When I eat school lunches, the menu provides healthy choices,” and “When I eat school lunches, the food is cooked to the right temperature.” Food services also use data from three questions on the student survey as a set of Key Performance Indicators that are reported on their Annual Report. 

School Improvement Planning Process – identifying needs, monitoring progress, incorporating parent feedback

Staff from the Planning and Evidence-based Supports Office review survey data as part of the continuous improvement planning process conducted in partnership with school leaders. Results from student, teacher, and parent surveys are used to identify needs for new programming or areas of focus for improvement or celebration. Parent/guardian survey responses are also used in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Title I funding requirements. In order to use Title I funds for school improvement, schools must report on parent feedback relative to school mission/vision, quality of instruction, and community engagement. Responses to questions like “Teachers at my child’s school give helpful comments on homework, classwork, and tests,” “My child’s school provides me with regular feedback about my child’s progress,” and “My child’s school provides help applying for social or medical services” are incorporated into the needs assessment portion of the school planning process.

Research and Evaluation – incorporating multiple stakeholder perspectives into research studies

Internal and external researchers rely on school-level PSES results from parent/guardians, teachers, and students to inform progress on measures of School Climate, Instructional Environment, Professional Capacity, Family Engagement, School Leadership, healthy food access, technology access and use, attendance challenges, community services, and more. Reports and briefs produced by SDP’s Office of Research and Evaluation regularly incorporate PSES results. External researchers are encouraged to use survey responses available on our Open Data website (under the “School Information” category) rather than creating/administering new surveys of parent/guardians, students, and teachers that can detract from instructional time and goals. Occasionally, additional questions have been added to the PSES as a way to measure large-scale initiatives (e.g. questions added for Safe Routes Philly in 2021-22).

School-Level Examples

Family Engagement – identifying and addressing challenges

Schools have used PSES data to identify opportunities to improve their family engagement programs. For example, leaders at one high school noticed that many parents/guardians reported on the PSES that parent activities were not scheduled at convenient times. The school sent out a follow-up survey with parents to identify more convenient times, and organized new events based on the results, such as dinners with parents of students on the cusp of not passing their courses and parents with students on the Honor Roll.

Rigorous Instruction and Grading – using survey data alongside other data to improve instruction

Survey responses are often used alongside other sources of information. At one school, the leadership team reviews school-level teacher responses to questions in the instruction construct about teacher practices alongside the letter grades assigned to students in different courses. They use responses to questions like “My students critique, evaluate, and synthesize,” “My students work on extended learning projects,” and “My students apply their knowledge to new situations, concepts, or problems” to reflect on ways to improve instruction.

School Leadership – continuously improving and identifying areas of focus

Responses to the School Leadership questions on the teacher survey provide information for new and returning principals and their supervisors (assistant superintendents) for improving school climate. Questions like “The principal at this school sets high standards for student learning” and “The principal at this school works to create a sense of community in this school” provide information about the key areas that leaders need to focus on to improve school climate.

Communicating Clearly – monitoring progress

Principals who are focusing on improving their communication with the entire school community have monitored the results of their efforts by reviewing teacher responses to questions like “The Principal at this school communicates a clear mission for our school” and parent responses to questions like “My child’s school communicates with me in a manner that is clear and timely” and “The principal or school leader is accessible to me” to identify areas of success and places for continued improvement.

Improving School Community – using survey data alongside discipline data to gain more information

District and school leaders use the District’s “QlikBAM” performance management dashboards to track student and school progress and identify areas for improvement. School leaders often use survey responses to learn more information about trends they see in the dashboards, such as unequal (or disproportionate) suspensions based on student race/ethnicity, gender, grade-level, English learner status, or special education status. Looking at groups of student responses to survey questions like “I have been treated badly based on my race/ethnicity or background” and “my teachers treat me with respect” based on student characteristics helps school leaders focus on groups or grades of students in their school where there are areas of student-identified concerns.

Attendance – identifying possible reasons for absence and lateness

School leaders use responses to questions about traveling to school, safety in the hallways/bathrooms, bullying, and feeling welcome in school to identify possible reasons why students are late/absent from school. The parent survey asks parents how much of a challenge these different situations are in supporting their child attending school: family responsibilities, feeling safe at school, chronic or ongoing medical issues, public transportation, District-provided transportation, and safety of the child’s walking route. The student survey gives students an opportunity to identify challenges that may limit their on-time attendance, including attendance challenges like “I am bullied at school,” “I feel welcome in school,” “I feel safe in my classes,” and “I feel safe in the hallways and bathrooms.” The teacher survey also provides information about bullying, whether the school communicates the importance of attendance, and student behavior and discipline. School teams track responses from all stakeholder surveys in these areas and identify targeted responses to address student, teacher, and parent concerns about attendance challenges.

Community/Partner Examples

Promise Neighborhood – Assessing service delivery and evaluating outcomes

The West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood is a US Department of Education-funded program to support “cradle to career opportunities for children living in or attending one of the 7 schools in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. The program seeks to improve education, health, and economic success for children, their families, and communities. Questions from the parent survey are an important way to identify potential gaps in programming. For example, parents are asked: “Do you have internet at home,” “Is healthy food available in your neighborhood” and “How often do you buy or choose healthy food for you and your family.” These responses are also used to fulfill grant reporting requirements. Because these questions are asked of all parents, not just those residing in the Promise Neighborhood zone, The Promise Neighborhood is able to compare the responses of parents/guardians within their region to responses of parents/guardians in other neighborhoods not serviced by the Promise Neighborhood.

Community Schools – Determining gaps in communication and awareness of available programs

Community Schools are public schools where a full-time coordinator works with the entire school community – students, parents, teachers, administrators, service providers, and neighbors – to identify the community’s most pressing needs, such as expanded medical services, after-school programming, and job training. The coordinator then works with service providers and City agencies to bring these targeted resources directly into the school. The Community Schools team use responses from the parent survey to track changes in availability and awareness of community services over time. For example, parents are asked to indicate yes, no, or don’t know to questions such as “My child’s school offers help finding and/or applying for jobs.”; “…help learning English,” and “…help applying for social services.” Parent/guardian responses to these questions help the Community Schools team determine  whether they need to dedicate more efforts to outreach and promoting awareness of available services. Analysis of responses at community schools compared to other schools in the same zip code or region also help identify where gaps in service exist.

Informed Parents – accessing information that informs and empowers

Parents groups, including a community of new mothers in South Philadelphia, use the district-wide survey to better understand how other parents view the schools where they might choose to send their children. Answers to questions such as “I am pleased with the quality of education my child’s school is providing for my child” and “Adults at my child’s school treat my child with respect” are an informative supplement to other pieces of information such as test score averages, behavioral incident counts and enrollment trends.