New Gunn counseling survey suggests higher satisfaction level
Original post made on Apr 6, 2013
Read the full story here Web Link posted Saturday, April 6, 2013, 1:09 PM
on Apr 6, 2013 at 5:46 pm
Forgive me for being a little cynical. I just find when the school administration in this town in criticized, they find ways to gloss things over rather than solve problems. I'd want to know more about the rewording of that survey before I made up my mind either way.
For example, with the survey the superintendent sent out recently about the strategic plan, the survey asked questions under the topic of facilities that were just poorly worded and didn't include obvious priorities, like ensuring good upkeep and well-monitored construction bond. I'm sure we'll hear the results massaged to mean parents didn't prioritize those things even though they weren't listed.
I have a child who has experienced depression at school, and the school psychologist reported things like that my child felt the school was a "connected" school -- but didn't ask whether my child and our family felt connected with the school, when we've felt very, very alienated from the school and especially the district this year. I think when they get away with that kind of intellectual dishonesty, it just encourages them.
I'm not saying it's applicable here, I'd just like to see both surveys to be sure. Does anyone have a link to both?
on Apr 6, 2013 at 9:15 pm
This is a for example:
"Last year, students were asked how much they agreed with the statement: "I feel comfortable going to my guidance counselor about personal issues that I might be struggling with." This year, the question changed to "I feel comfortable going to an adult at Gunn about personal issues that I might be struggling with."
The percentage of ninth-graders who agreed or strongly agreed went from 32 percent last year to 56 percent this year; 10th-graders went from 32 percent last year to 52 percent this year and 11th-graders went from 26 percent last year to 49 percent this year"
This doesn't support the existing system, it actually supports moving to an advisor system, because the improvement came when the survey didn't directly ask about the counselors but asked about "adults". This isn't the same question and doesn't gage the same things.
on Apr 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm
Here is a rundown on the questions that appear to be identically worded, and how the numbers compare to last year and to Paly:
1. My guidance counselor can help with supporting me if I am struggling emotionally:
Gunn 2012: 44%; Gunn 2013: 64%; PALY: 80%
2. I trust the advice my counselor gives me about academic classes and schedules
Gunn 2012: 72%; Gunn 2013: 86%; PALY: 91%
3. I trust my counselor to help me if I'm struggling academically
Gunn 2012: 58%; Gunn 2013: 77%; PALY: 88%
4. My counselor can help with supporting me if I'm in a difficult family situation.
Gunn: 2012: 39%; Gunn 2013: 49%; PALY: 82%
5. My counselor can help with supporting me if I'm struggling with friends and peers.
Gunn 2012: 41%, Gunn 2013: 53%; PALY: 83%
6. . My counselor can help with supporting me if I'm feeling generally stressed.
Gunn 2012: 48%; Gunn 2013: 65%; PALY: 83%
7. My counselor or Titan 101 coach helped me to make the transition from middle to
Gunn 2012: 24%; Gunn 2013: 38%; PALY: 50%
All of this data is available here: Web Link
It is interesting that Gunn is showing jumps of this magnitude which are quite unusual and raises some question about whether the survey administration conditions were similar, and whether the students understood that the results were anonymous. It is hard to explain gaps like this, particularly when there was no large infusion of money or support for the counseling program, and the negative evaluations were consistent with years of data.
Assuming it's true, that's terrific. Clearly, it is only happening due to the pressure that community groups such as We Can Do Better Palo Alto and the Weekly created for finally facing up to the inequity in counseling support between our two high schools.
The situation calls for continued monitoring using the same questions at both high schools in order to continue to monitor the comparability of services at both schools. Because Paly's program is clearly superior and delivers objectively better services and results, and because it is being iterated on and improved all the time, comparability is a moving target.
The best solution would clearly be to move Gunn to an advisory system. It's much better, we already know how to do it well, and it delivers a superior product for a very good price. Although some roughly comparable questions show some improvement, in every case, Paly is still better. That's the bottom line. How much time/money/effort does this district intend to spend in order to not do the sensible, efficient thing so that the Gunn teachers don't have to try something new? Who works for whom here?