Let’s continue to talk about surveying students

I wrote a blog last week in support of using student surveys to help improve their education.

Students should regularly be asked (surveyed) how they feel about the education they receive. They should have ample opportunity to leave feedback and reviews. The schools and educators, in turn, should use those reviews to replicate successes and make changes accordingly.

These reviews not only have the potential to help schools and educators improve, they can also greatly benefit other consumers. If families have access to the reviews, the results will help them make more informed decisions about the schools available to their children.

Educators and lawmakers are debating the value of a student survey and the best choice of vendor. The State Board of Education has released a 44-page packet that includes public comments about surveying students.

In my previous blog, I called out Rep. John McCrostie for his written comments. He voiced concerns over the weekend on Facebook and in an email to me that I misrepresented his words.

I did not intend to misrepresent his words, so in this blog, I want to set the record straight.

I originally wrote:

​“Rep. John McCrostie, a Garden City Democrat and music teacher, said the tone of the AdvancED survey came across as jaded, or overenthusiastic. ‘I question how honest students could be with this survey.’

Rep. McCrostie took offense that I (Mom Blogger) would imply he believes “every student would lie in a survey about their teachers and education” since he said “I question how honest students could be with this survey.”

He said he was speaking to the tone of the questions in the AdvancED survey, which he believed were leading. He questioned how honest the students could be, with questions such as the following:

  • How often do your teachers seem excited to be teaching your class?
  • How often do you worry about violence at your school?
  • How often do you stay focused on the same goal for several months at a time?

He continued to say, “My point on the tone of the questions, if taken to their absurd conclusion, might as well ask: ‘How long has it been since your teacher was mean to you?’ That type of clearly leading question has no place in a student survey designed to provide a measure of evaluation on Idaho schools and classrooms. Even if I allowed for argument that such a point was not clearly expressed, it was also clearly not expressed that I believe that every student lies on a survey.”

I don’t want to make any inaccurate implications. His exact wording can be found on page 19 in this link in the State Board packet:

“I’m a bigger fan of the Panorama survey. I think the use of the Likert scale is better in a survey format. It allows for a neutral response as well as two or three options for agreement/disagreement. The eProve survey comes across a bit either jaded or over-enthusiastic and I question how honest students could be with this survey. I think the survey taker may have to think too long on a particular answer instead of giving a ‘gut’ reaction. I could go more in depth if necessary, but for now I’ll leave it at that. Thank you, John McCrostie.”

I am glad lawmakers are talking about student surveys. I want to encourage lawmakers and educators to survey students, because student opinion matters. And I hope they find a survey that meets the needs of our education community.

We all can improve, and feedback makes that possible.

Our students will be surveyed this spring and I am looking forward to the results of that survey. If our schools and educators use this survey to look for strengths, then our teachers and schools can model that success. If they use the survey to pinpoint the weakness or flaws in education, then change and improvement becomes possible. This survey has the potential to make education in Idaho better for everyone.

I appreciate feedback from people who read my blog, including state lawmakers, educators and students.

And I hope our state continues to have a conversation about surveying students.

Melanie Flake

Melanie Flake

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