Chapter IV: Self Study Findings
A. Organization for Student Learning Focus Group
In May, the Organization for Student Learning Focus Group prepared
and disseminated four surveys to four target groups. Surveys were
completed and received from five administrators, 29 teachers and
eight administrative staff and one community advisory board member,
who completed the survey intended for classified staff. In addition,
804 students, the majority from ESL classes, completed surveys.
There is a great deal of uncertainty regarding the extent to which
students understood the questions or the appropriate response.
Some surveys, for example, were done by the whole class together.
Others exhibited the same answers from many students in a particular
class, including both numerical answers and written responses,
indicating perhaps that responses were slanted toward the way
the teacher explained the questions, or that students may have
simply copied off of each other when they didn¹t understand.
Because of this, hand written comments that students added provide
the most telling information, and are included here where possible.
#1 - School
mission statement appears in the school brochure, on the web site
and is posted in every classroom. Overall, the school staff knows
the school mission statement very well and applies it by talking
to the community about our services, making sure students who
seek help get it and by referring students to classes we offer.
to write the school mission statement, students showed familiarity
with our school¹s programs and goals. Written responses on
surveys included ³Learning is forever/lifelong² (56),
³Learn English² (19), ³To better our lives²
(6) and ³Adapt to American life² (4). 547 of 794 students
said the school meets their needs and the needs of others in the
community ³much² or ³very much.²
are not yet familiar with the newly adopted ESLRs. However, administrators
felt that with the integration of the ESLRs into the curriculum,
the mission statement will become the driving force behind what
is taught in the classroom.
#2 - Governance
of the teaching staff is familiar with school policies, more than
half would like to receive a policy book or hand book. Administrative
staff all indicated familiarity with school policies and offered
examples: non-discrimination and sexual harassment policies, school
is a drug-free zone, no children under 18 allowed in classroom,
parking is restricted and treat one another with respect.
of students indicate that they know school policies very well,
with a large minority indicating that they know very little, and
few in between. The small number of written responses were inconsistent,
with one student writing ³No² for each policy, as if
s/he didn¹t understand, yet giving a numerical response indicating
the highest level understanding. Students were most familiar with
the policies affecting them, including policy regarding parking,
smoking and children attending classes.
are communicated through staff meetings, memos and newsletters.
Many teachers feel that the annual meeting, no longer held due
to budget cuts, was an important vehicle for communication. New
policies are created or updated as a result of changes in the
Administrative Regulations, changes in the Ed code or new funding
agencies. This process is not clearly understood by all administrators.
Policies are enforced through audits and Coordinated Compliance
Reviews, although a handbook or explanation would be helpful.
feel they do not know what the school board is very well, with
579 of 731 students saying they know ³medium² or less,
and only 152 saying they know ³much² or ³very much.²
When asked to write an explanation, 32 of 66 students who wrote
a response expressed in some way that the school board manages
#3 - School
indicated that the staff and faculty are encouraged to share their
ideas about areas for improvement in collaborative decision-making.
However, more than half of the teachers feel that they had very
little input into decisions that affect them and their students.
A cited example was a recent change in the school calendar that
teachers felt was made to accommodate administrative staff rather
than to benefit students¹ transition to the next level.
events or issues are communicated to staff through memos, flyers
and the annual faculty and staff meeting. Other avenues for communication
are e-mail, school web site, the whiteboard in the faculty lounge
or by word of mouth. These avenues are not always effective, however,
as indicated by responses from administrative staff to the question
³Are you well informed about issues and events at the school?²
-- ³Somewhat,² ³I usually have to ask questions.²
In addition, four of the eight staff interviewed said that changes
that affect them are not communicated in a timely manner.
In the past,
teachers and some staff have been invited to attend off-site training
workshops. Teachers are urged to present at conferences and educational
events. More experienced teachers train new instructors. Classified
staff members are on the management team.
#4 - Staff
to management, professional development is provided primarily
by off-site and on-site workshops and conferences, but many note
that professional development opportunities in past years were
much better. Over the years other methods have been used, such
as personal demonstrations, paid time to develop self-selected
skills, the TIP process, and peer coaching. Relevant and topical
articles are copied for staff¹s attention. Teachers are encouraged
to share in curriculum development. Personal dialogues are used
when appropriate between administrators and staff. Classroom visits
are used with feedback. Teachers feel that evaluation is an important
vehicle for professional growth and cited teacher-peer evaluation
and evaluation by administration as two preferred methods. Membership
in professional organizations, such as CATESOL, NEA, CSEA and
AFT/CTA are also valuable means to professional development.
staff, too, feel that evaluation is a valuable means of improving
performance because ³it can make you aware of abilities you
need to improve, shows strengths and weakness, therefore I can
work on my weakness. It will enable me to become a better employee,
improve/correct shortcomings, to see myself through their eyes,
set new goals...² However, when asked about the evaluation
process, 87% said they didn¹t know how often they were evaluated.
Four of eight staff feel that participation in professional development
greatly improves their performance, but three responded that they
saw no change, one reasoning, ³Can¹t tell of any improvement
if I have not participated in one.²
and facilities are made available, but many teachers feel that
additional resources are needed, mainly in three areas: program
and services, materials, and teacher support. Programs such as
learning disability diagnoses, remediation and guest speakers
were cited as needed, as well as programs for pre-literate students
and the great need for childcare services. In addition to more
class sets of books and a better library with updated books, teachers
requested software and a student brochure of services available.
Teachers feel that training opportunities for teachers of preliterate
students, as well as team meetings by level and general staff
meetings, would help ensure that their teaching would support
the acquisition of the ESLRs.
do not have a written professional development plan, since professional
development is contingent on budget. There is a self-assessment
form that is not currently being used.
#5 - School
encouraged to utilize innovative teaching approaches via personal
suggestions, conference attendance, peer tutoring and curriculum
design and feel very supported in this area. One teacher commented,
³This is one of the school¹s strengths.² Another,
³I think the school offers a lot of space for creativity
but I would like to receive a pat on the back every once in a
while.² Suggestions for how the school could be more supportive
in this areas included: classes for personal growth, opportunities
to learn from each other by observing and meeting, and more financial
support for ³good² conferences. Others cited time as
a leading reason for the lack of sharing among teachers.
also provided with information from other schools and other programs.
For students in need of additional services, there is a community
liaison. Students can be connected to outside agencies by the
teacher, student services, or staff. In special situations, aides
are provided to work with a student. Student expectations are
communicated through the curriculum goals for the level and the
CASAS feedback. Teachers also use pre/post tests, needs surveys,
final tests, student portfolios and informal evaluation as a means
of communicating expectations and measuring student performance.
that they have a clear understanding of the school¹s expectations
and that these expectations are clearly communicated. An overwhelming
majority of students (625 of 794)feel that teachers and staff
demonstrate a high level of caring for them, yet responses were
mixed regarding the level at which teachers assist students outside
of class. Most students feel that students work together in a
supportive manner, as indicated by the high number of written
comments: ³That class has unity and respect for all,²
³They motivate and help each other,² ³ I think
that by studying together students learn more and gain more confidence,²
³ I feel that students accept each other without discrimination,²
³I feel that students care about each other,² ³With
all the different cultures it is incredible that we have a lot
of fun and take care of each other.²
#6 - Reporting
Student Progress Criterion
of the tools which will measure student progress in acquisition
of the ESLRs is in progress. Many teachers feel that a formatted
sheet with a checklist of possible achievements and discussion
with students would be the most useful for monitoring student
achievement of the ESLRs. In addition, many teachers feel that
keeping in contact with former students, even using them as guest
speakers, would be a great technique for overall school evaluation.
How this information will be communicated within the school and
to the broader community is a work in progress.
#7 - School
Improvement Process Criterion
about the procedure for planning, administrators responded that
everyone meets together in the yearly faculty meeting to discuss
the focus for the year. Active participation is encouraged. Once
the data is compiled from the School Improvement Process, findings
will be routed to the appropriate group/staff for reflection and
planning for action. Short and long term planning will be included
in a strategic plan that will drive policy for the next few years.
The Community Advisory Board will be the communication vehicle
out to the broader community. The hope is that this board will
help the school decide which classes to offer in the future.
were asked about the need for other types of services at the school,
33% of all students who completed surveys requested assistance
with further education and immigration issues, 25% expressed and
need for health services, and others voiced a need for childcare
(16%), drug counseling (11%), domestic violence services (11%),
alcohol counseling (9%), parenting (9%), work (3.6%), housing
(1.5%) and driving (1%).
€distribute a policy book or hand book to all teachers and
a certificated staff member on the management team
staff meetings, annually for the school-wide community and monthly
for smaller groups
more avenues for communication and feedback, including e-mail
educating the whole staff about ESLRs, the need for measurement
and initiate development of the measurement tools, preferably
with teacher and staff input
staff to participate in how to spend any professional development
funds: new books for the library? workshops? additional/supplemental
out cost-effective ways to provide professional development: release
time to learn from each other, structured meeting times to share
clearly communicate methods for evaluation and follow through