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Survey measures climate in Sitka schools

Students listen to Pacific High School co-principal Phil Burdick during an all-school meeting in 2011. Pacific was one of three schools surveyed for the School Climate and Connectedness Survey. (Photo: Ed Ronco/KCAW)

Results are in for a survey designed to measure how students and teachers feel about the climate at school buildings in Sitka.

The School Climate and Connectedness Survey asked nearly 450 students in middle and high school how they felt about various aspects of life in their school building. Some 66 staff members also were surveyed.

Nearly 60 percent of students said they agreed or strongly agreed that they were held to high expectations. Nearly two-thirds agreed that schools are safe.

But roughly the same percentages of students had mixed feelings on how respectful and helpful students were to one another. They also had mixed feelings about the involvement of parents and the community in local schools.

Read the study and view the full results on the district’s website.

Claire Richardson works for the Association of Alaska School Boards, and presented the results earlier this week to Sitka’s board. She says the survey measures feelings and perceptions, but the results help schools improve performance, too.

“The more that a student is connected to their school, with high expectations, safety, peer respect, adult respect, the better they’ll do academically and the better they’ll do in life itself,” Richardson said. “The more they’re connected, the better they’re going to perform.”

Sitka’s results show improvements from the last time the district was surveyed, in 2006. District Superintendent Steve Bradshaw says he’s pleased with the results.

“People’s perception is their truth in my mind,” Bradshaw said. “If they feel that, or they believe that this is a positive, good environment, I believe it’s going to be a positive, good environment for them, and it’s also going to be more productive.”

But he also says there are definite areas for improvement, such as how students feel about school leadership and whether they’re involved in decisions about their school.

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