January 19, 1995 in Washington Voices

Voter Survey Shows CV Goals On Target

Margaret Taus Staff writer
 

Registered voters in the Central Valley School District think the district is on target with goals it set for itself and students in 1992, according to a recent survey.

“We’re viewing it as validation that we’re on the right track,” said Geoff Praeger, a member of the strategic plan committee.

For example, all or nearly all of the 910 respondents agreed that it is at least “moderately important” that schools help students learn the basics, such as communication skills, reading, math and problem-solving skills.

Fewer people thought international studies, languages and physical fitness are highly important for schools to teach, with 20 percent saying that it is “not at all important” or “somewhat important” that schools help students learn physical fitness skills.

Another 22 percent of the respondents said it is “not at all important” or “somewhat important” that schools “assist families and the community in helping students learn self-expression and/or appreciation of art.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean people don’t think those things are important, Praeger said.

“People see there are other options and avenues for kids to get those things,” he explained. They may not think it has to be done at schools.

At the same time, Praeger said he was “pleasantly surprised” that respondents thought problem-solving, critical thinking and strategies for lifelong learning were highly important for schools to teach.

The district sent surveys to a random 10 percent of registered voters in the district last November. Of the 2,488 sent out, 910 were returned, or 36.6 percent. The number was three times enough to make the survey valid, Praeger said, and was more than the expected 15 percent to 20 percent return rate.

In 1992, a committee of CV district staff, administrators, parents and community members wrote a strategic plan that included goals for the schools, as well as goals in which schools could help families and the community teach children.

They included things such as teaching students to set goals and evaluate themselves; using technology to improve curriculum; expanding business partnerships; and improving communication with the community.

On a scale of one to five, from not important to very important, the 11 district goals averaged a 3.8 rating.

While the survey didn’t ask for comments, some people did write in additional thoughts, Praeger said. The most prevalent comment was that schools should insist on high standards and hard work. Another repeated comment was that schools should teach basic skills, “not fluff,” according to the survey report.

The information will go to school board members, as it “gives them an insight into what the community is thinking,” Praeger said.

The district will try to go back to the community again to see if opinions and priorities change, he said.

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