Insight from APS Students, Staff and Families Will Help Inform Work Across Schools and County (Español)
June 29, 2020—Arlington Public Schools (APS) and the Arlington Partnership for Children, Youth and Families (APCYF) released the 2020 Your Voice Matters survey results, with an online dashboard available at APS and APCYF that has overall and site-specific results. The survey—held in January and February—had more than 21,100 responses from APS staff, families, and students in grades 4-12 who provided insight on topics such as school and community climate, health, well-being, and engagement. The Your Voice Matters Survey launched in 2018 and is conducted by the independent research organization Panorama Education.
“APCYF is excited to continue our partnership with APS and the community to collect and disseminate information that reflect such important feedback from Arlington’s students, families, and staff. We look forward to discussing relevant, actionable change to further the cause of social justice in our community,” said Dr. J. Michael Griffin, APCYF Chairman. Key insights from the 2020 report prepared by Panorama Education include the following:
- Student Well-Being: Most students say they have a trusted adult in school, and some students report feelings of stress. Some families report their students are below average on social, emotional and mental health.
- 85% of Grade 4-5 students say there is at least one adult in school who they can talk to about things that are going well, and 82% say there is at least one adult in school who they can talk to when they need help (in school or personally); 68% of Grade 6-12 students report having a trusted adult in school.
- 76% of Grade 6-12 students say they get along with students who are different from them
- On social, emotional and mental health, families of Grade 8-12 students report significantly below average, and families whose students have an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan report below those without IEP plans; English learners report 9 points higher than non-English learners.
- 60% of Grade 4-5 students cite feeling so stressed or overwhelmed that they are not able to participate in regular activities.
- Engaged Workforce: Staff report strong personal connections with students and highlight the need for greater employee voice in APS.
- Staff report most favorably about student and staff engagement, with 82% stating they can make a personal connection with all of their students ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ well and 77% saying that they are ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ proud to work at APS.
- Staff report least favorably about employee voice and professional learning, with just 26% who say they have ‘quite a bit’ or a ‘tremendous amount’ of influence over school/department decisions that affect them and 24% who say the same about the professional learning opportunities available to them.
- Strong and Mutually Supportive Partnerships: Families report a welcoming and respectful school climate, but experiences vary across demographic groups.
- 92% of families report favorably on school climate; over 90% say that teachers, front office staff, and school administrators are ‘quite’ or ‘extremely’ respectful in interactions with them.
- While school climate saw little variance from the 92% favorable reporting by most student and family demographic groups, some families reported below average, including Black or African American families (87%), Asian families (89%), Hispanic or Latino families (91%) and families who selected “other” for race and ethnicity (83%).
“Getting feedback from our community through the Your Voice Matters survey makes us stronger as a school division. We celebrate the good connections between our students and staff, and the supportive, welcoming environments in our schools, and will work together in areas that need improvement, such as employee voice and student mental health,” said Dr. Francisco Durán, Superintendent, APS. “One key area that I am specifically committed to is ensuring our employees feel valued and heard on decisions that impact them.” Participation in the 2020 survey came from a broader range of APS stakeholders than in 2018, when there were over 12,000 responses. Following the first survey, stakeholder committees provided feedback and assisted with revising and developing questions for the 2020 survey. The 2020 survey added Grade 4 students and expanded to include all Grade 4-12 students, rather than a sample.
Participation in this year’s Your Voice Matters survey came from more than 13,100 Grade 4-12 students, nearly 3,600 staff, and more than 4,400 family responses.
“We are pleased with the broad participation in the Your Voice Matters survey this year and want to thank everyone who took the time to answer questions and share their experiences and thoughts. This important tool allows us to better understand and track progress on strategic plan goals and key issues in our schools and community based on what we hear from teachers, staff, students, and families. These results will inform our discussions and workplans as we examine strengths and challenges in our schools,” said Dr. Durán.
The Your Voice Matters survey began as a way to streamline data collection from APS stakeholders that had been gathered through multiple surveys in the past: the Search Institute’s Developmental Assets Survey, the Site-Based survey for schools, and the APS Community Satisfaction Survey. Each school and department are provided with specific data pertaining to their sites with an expectation that the information will guide building-level decisions based on the data. As a bi-annual survey, the next Your Voice Matters survey will be conducted in 2022. For more information, visit https://www.apsva.us/planning-and-evaluation/evaluation/surveys/your-voice-matters/.