Monday, May 22, 2006

A School District's Effort to Listen

The Newton Public Schools have embarked on a listening campaign.
Administrators of the 11,000-student school district, just west of Boston, are soliciting the views of parents of autistic kids, to ask questions like:

  • Are they satisfied with the quality and quantity of communication with teachers?
  • Are they integral to their child's educational plan?
  • Do they feel their student is receiving a quality education?
  • Does school and family collaborate on implementing behavioral strategies?
  • Do parents feel school staff are adequately trained?
  • Are school staff open to the suggestions of outside professionals?
And on and on, for a list of 40 questions (most of them multiple choice, or yes-or-no) intended to take 10 or 15 minutes. Of course, it depends on what administrators choose to do with the information they gather. It may all come to nothing, in fact. But it seems like such a healthy initiative that could yield some real insights. While each child needs his own plan of services, there's clear value in generating a survey that yields information about the group. It will be interesting to hear if any program changes or service offerings come about because of what they learn. Let's hope.

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