BC polls students

Survey on school environment meant to be a help to staff

When it comes to public schools, there are plenty of data to gauge student and school performance, from standardized testing results to classroom size. But at the Bethlehem Central School District, administrators are trying to gauge how students feel about their schools through an online poll.

The online survey was completed by about 1,200 students grades 3 through 12, and the results are being compared to a similar survey distributed to both students and parents a few years ago, said Assistant Superintendent Jody Monroe. It has identified areas the district has improved in, and areas it needs to focus on in the future.

I think its important to look at those areas, because they're not something that get measured on any kind of a state assessment, Monroe said. "We have a lot of students who enjoy coming to school, who are happy coming to school and like what is going on, but we also have students who don't feel that way and don't feel as connected... That's what often makes a student's school experience positive or negative."

Monroe said some of the district's efforts made in the past few years to improve the student experience were reflected in the new results, such as addressing bullying and diversity issues. The vast majority of students said they had helped someone in need or witnessed someone else doing the same while at school.

"Students know what the right things are to do and how to handle those situations," Monroe said.

While the responses indicate higher student satisfaction, there are still some areas that the district will want to monitor, Monroe said. For instance, while the nearly all of students said they feel safe at most locations in their school day, 16 percent said they didn't feel safe on the school bus, with similar results for bathrooms and hallways.

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