This past school year FLA administered, for the first time, the John Hopkins University School Culture 360 Survey which investigates many of the school culture indicators of a healthy school including collegiality, leadership, and academic expectations. However, it also provides early indicators of civic formation academic identity-development, and the social and emotional support experienced across the school community.
FLA will be administering the survey again this school year to provide us with ongoing data to guide continuous school improvement. A healthy and strong school culture is important as it indicates a common philosophy that is evident in the moral vocabulary, rituals, discipline, academic expectations, and relationships among students, teachers, and the larger school community.
All FLA students, administrators, teachers and staff, and parents were encouraged to complete the survey this past year. One of the great benefits from the study is that it is possible to drill down to look at answers by ethnicity of gender to identify areas of difference or areas of needed growth and focus.
What are some of the important findings from this study regarding strengths at FLA?
Strength #1: That students experience the school as a positive community in which they are engaged and supported. The responses were very affirming that students of different races/ethnicities get along well, hang out together, and work collaboratively together in class.
Strength #2: On the issue of conflict and bullying and how students and teachers treat one another, the results indicated a very positive school culture where students generally felt safe and where they did not feel they were bullied, made fun of, talked about in a negative way.
Strength #3: Students felt that on a general basis the FLA teachers treat students with respect.
Strength #4: School administrators valued and set and communicated high standards for academic performance, the importance of instructional time, and an affirmation that the majority of teachers believe that their students can achieve at a high academic level.
Strength #5: Teachers felt respected and supported by school administration and that it was OK to discuss feelings, worries or frustrations, and that performance evaluations were productive, clear and useful.
Strength #6: Parents clearly feel that the school consistently challenges students intellectually and supports them in performing well while preparing them to succeed in college or be work-force ready.
What are some areas of needed growth?
Weakness #1: A perception on the part of some parents that a few teachers were not as strong as they should be.
Weakness #2: Some students felt they could not speak with their teachers about personal or sensitive issues, future plans, or negative feelings they were experiencing.
Weakness #3: Some students felt that school projects, activities, or homework did not engage them in thinking about important issues such as justice, environmental responsibility, civic values or service.
Weakness #4: Some students experience a feeling of loneliness at school.
Weakness #5: A significant number of students feel stressed out by coursework or homework.
Throughout this school year FLA administration and teachers will continue to examine the data from this study to determine growth areas to focus attention on. And this year, when we administer the survey for a second time, we will now have a benchmark to determine school growth and improvement.