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From the Board Room: SCCS at a glance
From the Board Room: SCCS at a glance
By Noelle H. Lowery
How do Kodiak Island Borough School District faculty, staff and students view their school climate? How connected do these students feel to adults and peers in their school community?
These are the questions that the Association of Alaska School Boards’ School Climate and Connectedness Survey (SCCS) seeks to answer each year. The reason: staff and student perceptions of school safety, expectations for learning, student involvement, caring adults, respectful climate, how peers treat each other, connections between school and the community, and observations of other students’ risk behaviors at school and school events are all factors directly linked to student success. (See table below).
For the last few years, KIBSD has partnered with the Association of Alaska School Boards to conduct the SCCS, which is voluntary, anonymous, confidential, and does not ask questions about students’ families. In spring 2017, the survey was taken by students and staff in 254 Alaska schools in 27 of the 54 school districts in the state. In Kodiak, 197 staff members, 425 3rd-5th graders and 843 6th-12th graders participated in the SCCS between Feb. 27 and March 11.
During the June 5 Board of Education work session, Director of School and Student Services Ron Bryant reported on the districtwide raw data from the SCCS. According to Bryant, KIBSD has been monitoring closely the results of the SCCS since the 2014-2015 school year, and for the most part, the results have held steady.
Take the responses from the KIBSD faculty and staff. On the whole, KIBSD teachers feel good about their work, the work of their colleagues, and the work and performance of their students. These teachers also consistently report low observations of incidents of delinquent behaviors and drug and alcohol use by students. The staff responses also reveal steady improvement in attitudes about Parent and Community Involvement, Peer Climate, Leadership and Involvement, and School Safety.
Still, Bryant told BOE members, “We are nowhere near where we want to be. This is definitely a working document.”
For example, he noted two areas of concern — Student Involvement and Student Perceptions of Peer Alcohol Use — found in the results from the Grades 6-12 survey. When comparing Grades 6-12 responses over the last three years, it appears students feel less involved in their schools and as if they have less of a voice in what goes on in their schools and how problems within the schools are solved. Additionally, these same students reported increases in their personal observations of peer alcohol use.
“We are looking at the student involvement responses,” Bryant told BOE members. “We are looking to see what we can do to improve here.”
Additionally, Bryant explained that while the Grades 6-12 responses for Caring Adults, Peer Climate and Respectful Climate were relatively stable, he and district administration are not satisfied with the overall low scores. These signal that some middle and high school students do not feel that there are adults in their school — teachers or otherwise — who care about them or even know their name, and that their own peers do not treat them or others with respect or help one another when they are in need.
Bryant indicated that KIBSD’s new Culturally Responsive Embedded Social Emotional Learning (CRESEL) program is designed to work on these very issues, as well as with the new SCCS survey areas of Cultural Connectedness and Social and Emotional Learning. CRESEL was introduced in Kodiak High School this year, and will be fully implemented at Kodiak Middle School by 2019.
“We are looking to the CRESEL program to help here. Look for improvement in peer culture as we continue to roll the CRESEL program out,” he said.
BOE member Julie Cain Hill expressed her hope that KIBSD administrators, faculty and staff will be able to make headway on these issues for the sake of the students. “It is hard to teach people when they don’t feel good about themselves and their environment,” she added.
Historically, KIBSD administrators have used SCCS results to help students, parents, staff and the community better understand the interactions and relationships among students, teachers and staff, and to identify ways to improve schools to be more supportive caring and productive places for all students. It is these interactions and relationships that constitute each school’s social and academic climate.
Between now and the 2017-2018 school year, Bryant will work with the Association of Alaska School Boards’ staff drilling down through the results to look at them on the school level. Association staff will visit schools and talk with faculty, students and community stakeholders. A formal presentation of these findings will be provided to LeDeux and the BOE in the fall.
Incoming Superintendent Larry LeDeux is looking forward to this work, the dialogue and the coming presentations. “The real discussions of this report will happen in the fall,” he reminded the BOE. “While there has been very little statistical change, we have students who are feeling left out and that nobody cares, and that is not okay. This represents a significant challenge. We will take a close at this data. It won’t be placed on a shelf. This is critical.”
For more information about the individual SCCS reports, please click on one of the accompanying reports.