District Unveils Culture Climate Survey

DeSoto ISD Unveils Culture & Climate Survey
Posted on 02/21/2020
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DeSoto ISD Unveils Culture & Climate Survey and Plans to Move Forward

At the February 10, 2020 DeSoto Independent School District Board of Trustees meeting, district leaders presented the results of the Fall 2019 Panorama Culture and Climate Survey. 

Panorama is an organization that provides education-focused climate survey which measure the perceptions of different stakeholders within a system including students, parents, staff and community. The survey is generally administered once per semester and can be broken down by campus, sub-population, and stakeholder group.

The survey explores a wide range of topics including school climate; safety and belonging; professional learning; family engagement; staff-family relationships; school leadership and more.

“This year, our district added a social-emotional indicator, that allows us to get insight into how students feel about themselves” said Natalia Fernández, Chief of Student Support Services. “This is a critical window given that many of our students are navigating peer groups, social media, and their day-to-day scholarly workload.”

The recent survey results show a significant increase in participant response rates in which responses from DeSoto ISD teachers and staff and DeSoto ISD students grew from 45% and 42% in the Fall of 2018, to 81% and 90% this year, respectively.  Additionally, DeSoto ISD family responses increased by more than 840 responses.

“Our families are experiencing significantly stronger perceptions of school climate and school fit” said Fernandez. “And our staff members overall have increased satisfaction with the coaching, feedback and school leadership.”

The Elementary Experience

The Panorama survey looked at data around district schools’ rigor and expectations; teacher-student relationships; belonging, engagement, climate and safety. The social and learning measures of DeSoto ISD’s elementary students are in the top quartile of the nation. Diving deeper into the elementary student experience and looking at the perceptions of self, students were confident that if they failed at a particular task, they would definitely try again and not give up—a nod to the resilience of district elementary students and the safety they feel in trying and failing en route to learning and success. Additionally, students expressed contentment toward their peers. Furthermore, regarding school climate, students expressed excitement to participate in classes and were focused and engaged on many of the activities during the school day.

The Secondary Experience

Review of secondary students’ experiences in the same areas as surveyed by district elementary students, show a decrease in each of the categories offered. Although, the perceptions of self were extremely positive with students reporting they would continue to try despite the potential of failure and the pursuit of long-term goals over the next several years.  Additionally, secondary students’ perceptions of their schools included feelings of encouragement and a high level of care from teachers.

The Staff Experience

District staff categorized as campus non-instructional reported the largest increase in the confidence of school leadership and an increase in the improvement of in staff-family relationships, professional learning, feedback and coaching, and school climate.  Campus instructional staff felt staff-family relationships and confidence in school leadership saw an increase and positive sentiments related to feedback and coaching increased ranking within the 40th –59th percentile. 

Instructional staff’s sentiments related to professional learning, school climate and amount of resources provided decreased.

In an effort to be responsive to the data reported from this recent survey, the district implemented several measures designed to address these concerns. One of which is a more frequently held, amplified professional development and instructional coaching practice called the Collaborative Planning Cycle, or CPC, an instructional development process that provides a platform during which teachers from like grade levels and content areas have the opportunity to develop, practice and model high-quality, standards-based, aligned instruction with the goal of providing deeper support to develop teachers’ instructional acumen and content planning.

The Family/Community Experience

Data showed that families reported an increase in barriers to engagement with the district and a decrease in positive sentiments around school safety, school fit and school climate. Also, while the family engagement still ranks within the 40th-59th percentile as compared to national data in schools across the country, a decrease was still reported.

At the request of the Board Trustees, a community feedback element was added to the Fall 2019 survey. The results reported that 90% of DeSoto community members feel the district prioritizes the community but that data reflected a level of apathy regarding opportunities and district strengths.

 Moving Forward Together

In an effort to positively shift the culture and climate of the district and as aligned with the district’s FOCUS plan; several opportunities for internal and external engagement have been implemented.

“We are currently in the process of unpacking and internalizing this data with different groups within our system. We have presented to principals, central office leadership, our board and community” Fernandez said. “In Student Support Services and in other divisions, district administrators are dissecting this data on a deeper level by holding small-group temperature checks to identify and determine concrete actions that can be done to continue to improve the overall climate of our organization.”

Of these small groups, Superintendent of Schools, D’Andre J. Weaver, Ph.D. has formed advisory councils to connect with students, staff, parents and community members. Internally, central staffers engage monthly in an employee recognition and celebrations gathering and monthly districtwide employee team- and culture-building activities aimed at developing community and collaboration among staff.

A detailed report of the Fall 2019 DeSoto ISD Panorama Culture and Climate Survey can be found on the district’s website. Also, interested persons can view the board presentation view the link here.