Friday, February 27, 2015

Upcoming Student Surveys

Dear Barrows Community;

I’m writing to share information about the surveys our students will be participating in to provide feedback to our teachers and school.  Please see the other side of this letter for more information from our district about the surveys.  I wanted to also add my own personal thoughts about the student surveys, share my experiences, and invite you to reach out to me with any questions or concerns you may have!

            As a classroom teacher, twice a year, I would ask my students to complete anonymous surveys about my classroom practices and instruction.  I found this information to be one of the most powerful tools in shaping and changing my classroom practices.  The reality is, as much as we do our best as educators, there are always ways for us to grow.  Growth does not happen in isolation and independently.  Administrators and colleagues work together to try to help shift and strengthen what we do, but only our students are with us every day, all day.  They have the most comprehensive perspective about what happens in our classrooms – and the reality is they are the most important voices to provide us with feedback as it is their learning that should drive everything we do.  I still have all of the paper copies of the feedback that my students completed for me over the years and at least once a year I go back and review it because the voice of students should drive our work. 

            For those of you that are not aware, at the end of last year I asked every student in Barrows (K-5) to complete a survey for me.  It asked students some questions similar to those they will be completing about their teachers in the upcoming weeks.  I went through every survey and found some wonderfully helpful feedback that I have worked to try to address this year, including little things I didn’t know were positives that students acknowledged, and other areas that I could improve (I have gone much slower on the pledge of allegiance this year!)  It is likely that teachers over the years have asked your students to provide them with feedback about their practices and routines; feedback is an established part of what we do.  The difference this year is we are utilizing a third party to host the surveys online in an anonymous format.  This data will be complied and provided back to the teacher (not the administrators) in an anonymous aggregate manner so they can see the trends in their classroom and help them consider their own professional growth and goals.  This survey data will not have any identifiers of students.

            Through the use of student feedback, we are modeling what we want our students to do, take feedback about their strengths and about potential areas of improvement and utilize that information as life-long learners.  We all know that to truly be a life-long learner means that you never stop growing and improve and that everybody around us can help us get better at what we do every day – especially our students.

            As always, I invite you to reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns.  As a school, we will continue to work hard every day while also modeling our own learning behaviors as a school community. 

Thank you for your continued support Barrows!  Heather Leonard, Principal


Dear Parent/ Guardian,


I am pleased to let you know that over the last few weeks, our school has been participating in the 2014-2015 Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education (ESE) Model Survey Administration to use student and staff feedback to inform professional growth and support school improvement.  As you may know, all public schools in Massachusetts are now using student feedback as one of many ways to help improve teacher practice, although many teachers have been using student feedback for years as part of their professional practice.  As part of this feedback process, students in K-2 are taking one paper based feedback survey to give feedback to their classroom teacher and students in Grades 3-12 are taking online surveys for up to two of their classroom teachers.  Each survey takes about 15 minutes and will be administered a couple of times per year.


While many teachers may already regularly use student input as part of their practice (both formally and informally), the questions in these brief surveys are specifically aligned with the teaching standards that are used throughout the state as part of the educator evaluation process, allowing all educators to receive feedback from students in these key areas.  By working with the Massachusetts DESE and Panorama Education, the validity, reliability, and confidentiality of the online surveys can be assured, and the information can be shared with educators as a way to inform their own professional growth. As the survey information is part of an educator’s evaluation process, individual results are of course not reported out.


As always, our students regularly provide us with perhaps the most valuable feedback of all, as we work to ensure their continued success.  If you would like more information or have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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