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GD Survey Reveals Overall Satisfaction With Remote Learning

by Robert Stewart
As part of their ongoing effort to finish the school year with academic rigor, administrators in the school district recently conducted a survey of teachers, parents and students to determine how well remote learning is proceeding with each group.
The survey was designed to provide feedback to administrators about what aspects of remote learning are moving smoothly forward and what aspects seem to create problems causing all three participant groups to struggle with remote learning.
     The survey was conducted shortly after the school district implemented a remotely based program of studies which students were required to complete by the end of the school year. The goal of the required remotely learned program of studies was to expose students to certain standards of the curriculum for their respective grade level. This, in turn, would satisfy the academic requirements for each student to finish their respective grade and allow them to move to the next grade level without falling too far behind.
     The implementation of a remotely based program of studies was created with tremendously large challenges and an unbelievable amount of work. With so much invested, the school district is trying to ensure the program is a success.
     The survey was one tool the District could use to evaluate what things are going well and what things needed adjustments.  The findings were presented to the School Committee at their April 22 meeting held through a Zoom Video Conference.
     The survey drew a relatively large response with 1,427 participants providing answers and comments on different questions surrounding remote learning. Of the 1,427 participants responding, 680 were students, 583 were parents or caregivers, 102 were teachers and 62 were other staff in the school district or were both staff and parents. When the answers and comments from these three disparate groups were compiled, there was an overall picture of satisfaction with the way remote learning was progressing.
     Parents, students and teachers were asked to rate different aspects of remote learning with four different responses: Extremely Dissatisfied, Somewhat Dissatisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, and Extremely Satisfied.
     Despite some major challenges and concerns, the overall satisfaction rating given to the remote learning program from teachers, parents and students was 76 percent. While that number pleased most administrators in the district, the survey also revealed a significant level of frustration with the program from all three groups. Interestingly, the three groups expressed frustration for very different reasons. For teachers it was the workload. For parents it was the organization of student lessons and assignments. And, for students it was separation for students it was separation from classmates and the difficulty of staying focused on schoolwork at home.
     While teachers gave the remote learning plan a 90 percent satisfaction rating, this does not mean the transition was smooth or without difficulty. Some of the comments made by teachers in the survey reveal the monumental task it took to go from classroom teaching to remote teaching.“I am struggling with possible burnout. I am losing the boundaries of work time and home time. I am working from 6 a.m. to 10 at night,” one teacher commented. Another teacher commented, “I feel like I’m spending more time working than ever before and there always seem to be issues, whether it’s someone complaining about too much work, technology issues, etc...I’m starting to feel burnt out.”
     Parents recorded the largest dissatisfaction rating of the program where 28 percent of that group expressed some form of dissatisfaction with navigating the program. One parent commented, “The assignments at the beginning of the week (need) to be more easily reached, without having to scroll through all the Google classroom posts to get to.” Another parent commented, “Less places to click. It’s just confusing with many kids to care for.” Another parent commented on the confusion over what is required and what is not. “Make it simpler for a student’s parent to understand what assignments are required versus not.”
     Students also recorded a significant amount of dissatisfaction with the program with 24 percent of them expressing some dissatisfaction. However, students had very different reasons than their parents. Students were fine with teaching assignments online but were struggling with the home environment for learning and being separated from classmates. Some of the comments made by students reflect that reality. One student stated, “For me at least, I am not satisfied (because) I just can’t focus on school work for long periods of time and get distracted easily if I am not in school. But, the way I get work and have meetings is fine the way it is.” Another student commented, “It’s more of not being able to go to an actual school that sucks.”
     Administrators will use the survey results to make adjustments to the program as the school year moves into its final stretch. School Committee Chair Marlena Gilbert remained positive in the accomplishments achieved in the past several weeks. Gilbert stated, “In summary I didn't expect a newly-created remote learning plan, developed from the seemingly continuously changing DESE guidance to be implemented as smoothly as it has been. Within a couple of weeks, a plan was created, voted on by SC and GDEA, and implemented. That is a sheer testament to the dedication and collaboration that is taking place in our district amongst the SC, Administration, and our teachers. Overall satisfaction of staff at 90 percent, parents/caregivers at 72.1 percent, and students at 76 percent is a remarkable start. We expect to see that percentage increase for students and parents/ caregivers as the learning curve flattens.”
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