Neary Pilot survey results: 15.4% of 4th grader parents “made comments opposing the project”

In a letter to parents, Neary School Principal Linda Murdock shared information on results of the iPad Pilot parent survey. She also expressed the hope to make a decision soon to implement a revised plan.

According to her report, only 77% of 4th grade parents responded. Of those, “around 75% supported and intended to participate in the project.”

While not specifying the purchase/not purchase choices, she did break down feedback through comments as follows:

46% had only positive comments about the project; 26% were positive but had some concerns 20% made comments opposing the project; 7% had no comments.”

(By my calculations, that means 15.4% of  4th grade parents made opposing comments.)

She also shared an overview of comments from the parents of 3rd graders:

there were 51 comments from 3rd grade parents, which would be approximately 39% of the class if you assume that each comment was from a different student’s parent. Of the 3rd grade parent comments, 68% were positive (some with some concerns) and 33% made comments opposing the project.

She reminded parents that the survey was not a vote. The Technology Committee and the school now need to give comments thoughtful consideration before their next step:

After that, we can make a decision about the project that will hopefully meet everyone’s concerns. At this point, cost seems to be the primary concern, so in parallel with finishing our review of the survey information we are working on developing some other options for consideration that may help on that front.

I am hopeful that we will have a decision on the project in the near future and that we will be able to implement a plan that will work for everyone.

Updated (11/19/13 6:47 pm): I changed the headline. I wrote and scheduled the post last night and ever since I saw the headline this morning, it’s been bugging me.  I felt that “less than 16%” implied an opinion about the figure. I should have just written 15.4% in first place. (Frankly, I would have rounded to 15%, but some commenters made a stink when I rounded a figure in another headline and I didn’t want a repeat!)

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Dave
8 years ago

Was there not a decision by the state education board to the effect that the iPads would have to be treated as textbooks?

Mark Ford
8 years ago

Beth, I’m not sure I understand your 15.4% number. Are you assuming that no negative comments would be forthcoming from nonrespondents? I’d question that assumption.

I look at the numbers a bit differently than Ms. Murdock. For example, “only” 77% responded? That seems like an excellent response rate to me. And that 26% “positive but had some concerns” concerns me. I didn’t look at the survey, but judging from previous comments, it sounds like it was almost all open-ended responses. Were there a series of of traditional Likert Scale 5-option questions (strongly agree-agree-neither agree nor disagree-disagree-strongly disagree, or some other neutral rubric), I don’t think the “had some concerns” would be as ambiguous…as to intent to participate in the pilot, that number might reflect some respondents who are resigned to the project but are unenthusiastic. Finally, why the “around 75%” intend to participate–is the number 77%? 73%? If it’s the 72% you get from adding together those with only positive comments and those positive with concerns, it’s probably more accurate to say “around 70%.”

Not a particularly helpful survey. BTW, if I were a 4th grade parent, I’d definitely support the project, and advocate for school purchase of whatever IPads are needed.

Mark Ford
8 years ago
Reply to  Beth Melo

OK, I think I understand. So it’s also the case that 35% of parents feel positive about the project, and an additional 20% felt positive but expressed concerns?

Fiona
8 years ago

As a mother who participated in both surveys presented, I would like to clarify the survey questions and the difference between the two surveys. There were no Likert scale options presented.

The survey to non-4th grade parents asked if you had a child in the 4th grade, (which when I sought clarification, I was told to respond “no” for this particular survey because it was not directed at my 4th grader but for my younger children). Then it asked what grades were my children in. Third and lastly, it asked an open-ended question about what my thoughts were on the project, which I think we all know. So, that survey was three questions.

Next, the 4th grade survey presented one additional question that asked what option did I plan to choose for the iPad project? This question was in reference to whether #1 I was planning on using my own/buying my own, #2 purchasing through the school, #3 opting out with no access to an iPad at home or #4 applying for financial assistance based on the federal poverty guidelines for school lunches. I hope that clarifies the extent of the survey.

Matthew
8 years ago

I expressed concerns that the very nature of the survey communicated how little they wanted to depend on real numbers. If they were asked in a yes or no question to support the plan how many of the 75% would have answered YES?

I included in my “essay question” a few links on how to conduct a meaningful internet survey.
And as with many problems, there is not one issue to work out but several, which is why there are often many answers to many people. I suspect that the poor survey was merely a distraction so that their process could give the impression of moving along and also waste valuable time that could be used to identify why iPad are preferred and also the fair plan for funding the PILOT. We are only talking about the PILOT and there will be leasons learned from it that may change the nature of the eventual deployment.

In an effort to remove the most obvious distraction I suggest another survey!
Any one know how to get a link out to the whole town to a new survey that would
include the right questions?

Questions like this:
Do you know about the Neary 1:1 iPad pilot program?
YES/NO

Where have you received your info about the program in order of value?
Neary 1:1 website/Special School Meetings/Letters from school/Town Blog/Other
If other, please identify and comment.

Are you in favor of bringing technology into the school to assist the educational process or would you prefer a more standard direction towards reading, writing, and arithmetic?

If you would value technology would you prefer a platform specific program (MAC/PC/Android) or one that utilized Internet based education like the IXL.com program currently in use?

Do you have a tablet device you would allow your 4th grader to take ownership of for their education? If yes then what platform(MAC,PC,Android, Other)?

Do you feel that a PILOT program should provide all the resources necessary to the test group?

Do you feel that not providing resources to some students, either because they have them already or cannot afford them for after school use, would affect the success of the program, perceived or otherwise?
If YES then why?

Prior to hearing about the Neary 1:1 program what was your perception of the performance of the School Board and school system in town that accounts for 76%(check figure) of the budget? Please rate 1 – 10.

And now after? Again rate 1-10.

Should the school be able to absorb a $100,000 (.58%) discretionary expense out of $17 million budget?

Please comment to add or edit questions for a survey. Maybe we can get this done by Christmas when all the good children will get their tablet devices.

Frank Crowell
8 years ago
Reply to  Matthew

Matthew, that is a good survey. I would add one question:

When you hear from a School Committee member that a $17 million dollar budget is “bare bones”, what is your reaction on a scale of 1-10; one being outrage and ten being blissful joy.

Resident
8 years ago
Reply to  Frank Crowell

Matthew and Frank,

SInce you both seem to be better at doing the school committee’s job than the existing members does that you mean you will be running for office next time? The school committee position has been uncontested in the last few elections so whoever puts their hand up gets to serve. Remember these people are your neighbors who for better or worse have volunteered for these positions. Anyone who thinks they can do better is welcome to run.

Parent
8 years ago
Reply to  Resident

Perhaps I’ll run!

Matthew
8 years ago
Reply to  Resident

Resident,
Here are the current members with the year their term expires:
Kathleen A. Harragan 2014 Chair
Marybeth R. Strickland 2015
Paul H. Desmond 2014 Vice-Chair
Roger W. Challen 2016
Gerald V. Capra 2015

So it looks like two seats open up next year providing no resigns. Maybe Frank and I could run together!
Any chance you or anyone can point me towards a legitimate job description? I think everyone should know what is expected of a committee member and let’s just see how many folks are interested in stepping up after it is posted. I recognize that it is a commitment and would not attempt it if I could not give it the attention it deserves BUT that doesn’t mean I don’t get to comment.
Also here is a nice read for anyone interested. It is the Contract between the School Committee and the teachers Association for 2011 to 2014.
http://educatorcontracts.doemass.org/view.aspx?recno=255

Frank Crowell
8 years ago
Reply to  Resident

Since I have a “face for radio” and a good gig at “Men Balding Badly,” running for office is not in the cards. Serious answer to your question has to do with my work. I am on the road >50% of the time (this is being written from the road – near the Mall of America as matter of fact). I do this work and live in town to fulfill a promise to my kids: allow them to stay in the school system until graduation. The only job I could find to support this is the one I have.

It is my hope that people who are elected to represent me do that job. My suspicions grow when prominent and long standing good citizens of Southborough cannot get their questions addressed in a forum that should allow it – at school committee meetings. Those very people are neighbors as well. I think one of the current K-8 School Committee members ran on improving communication or opening up meetings for more taxpayer discussion, if memory serves me well.

It would be nice to hear that the teacher’s union or Dr. Gobron’s administration are being challenged particularly on spending. Maybe it’s happening but there is no evidence at least by what I read here or read in the paper or view when I have a chance to catch a meeting.

One of the wonderful things about this blog is voicing taxpayer discontent and finding out there are others with similar thoughts, but probably with a better face for TV.

I do have one correction on my survey question. The quote that caught my attention was not that the $17M budget was “bare bones;” it was that the budget was just “treading water.”

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