Annual survey shows overall positive perceptions of Dearborn Schools

A voluntary survey conducted this winter showed students, staff and parents have an overall positive view of Dearborn Public Schools.

The district’s Continuous Improvement Team conducts annual surveys of stakeholders to better hone in on areas of concern.  Most of the questions for the survey in December 2023 and January 2024 came from the U.S. Department of Education School Climate Surveys. The questions are carefully designed to provide meaningful feedback and avoid bias in questioning that could lead to misleading results.

Questions from the Department of Education survey covered topics including equity, engagement, safety, and school environment. Dearborn Public Schools added a few questions about calendar changes this year including one about open houses.  

The district received a strong response to the survey including 1,765 parent responses, 1,057 from staff and 6,314 student responses.  For most questions, respondents could use a sliding scale ranging from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree.” The district combined the “agree” and “strongly agree” to determine if the question had a positive response.  Parents, staff and students were all emailed links to their respective surveys.  The district and schools also sent reminders, posted information on websites and social media, and created a video to encourage participation in the survey. 

Parent results

Parents were asked 28 questions and of those 23 questions had more than 80 percent positive responses.  The most positive responses included:

  • My child’s teachers make themselves available to me. = 93%
  • This school looks clean and pleasant. = 91%
  • This school promptly responds to my phone calls, messages, or e-mails. = 91%
  • I feel comfortable talking to someone at this school about my child’s behavior. = 91%
  • I feel welcome at this school. = 90%
  • My child is safe at this school. = 89%
  • At this school, the staff really cares about my child. = 89%
  • This school is a friendly place overall. = 89%

The lowest responses on the parent survey still showed more than two-thirds of parents felt positively about their child’s school.  Those results included:

  • This school provides high quality services to help students with social or emotional needs. = 78%
  • This school helps me figure out what social and emotional skills my child needs to develop (e.g., self-control, problem solving, or getting along with others). = 77%
  • Students have enough healthy food choices at this school. = 73%
  • This school has enough programs that develop students’ social and emotional skills (e.g., self-control, problem solving, or getting along with others). = 73%

Staff responses

Teachers and other staff were asked 53 questions and 26 of those had an approval rating above 90 percent.  The highest positive responses were:

  • Staff do a good job helping parents to support their children’s learning at home. = 97%
  • Staff at this school recognize students for positive behavior. = 97%
  • This school has a written plan that clearly describes procedures to be performed in natural disasters (e.g., earthquakes or tornadoes). = 97%
  • I know what to do if there is an emergency, natural disaster (tornado, flood) or a dangerous situation (e.g., violent person) during the school day. = 97%
  • Students are encouraged to get involved in extracurricular activities. = 96%

The lowest responses still showed that more than two-thirds of employees answering the question had a positive view of the district.

  • This school places a priority on teaching students strategies to manage their stress levels. = 79%
  • This school effectively handles student discipline and behavior problems. = 77%
  • The students in my class(es) come to class prepared with the appropriate supplies and books. = 71%

Student results

Students were also provided a survey to complete and overall gave the district positive remarks, though not as high as the adult groups.  The highest marks from students came in the Engagement – Relationships and Safety category.

  • My teachers make it clear to me when I have misbehaved in class. = 91%
  • K-8 Only: challenges students to succeed academically no matter their race, ethnicity, nationality, and/or cultural background = 90%
  • My teachers care about me. = 87%
  • Students know what to do if there is an emergency, natural disaster (tornado, flood) or a dangerous situation (e.g. violent person on campus) during the school day. = 87%
  • If I am absent, there is a teacher or some other adult at school that will notice my absence. = 86%
  • I have lots of chances to be part of class discussions or activities. = 86%
  • I feel safe going to and from this school. = 86%

The lowest approval categories for students include:

  • Discipline is fair. = 70%
  • I regularly attend school-sponsored events, such as school dances, sporting events, student performances, or other school activities. = 65%
  • Students at this school try to stop bullying. = 65%
  • I regularly participate in extracurricular activities or after school activities offered through this school, such as, school clubs or organizations, musical groups, sports teams, student government, or any other extra-curricular activities. = 64%
  • Students respect one another. = 59%

Parents and staff were also asked if they supported the district’s switch last year to holding open houses in the afternoon before school started.  For parents, 54 percent supported the change, 21 percent did not support it, and 25 percent did not have a preference. For staff, 73 percent supported the change, while 10 percent did not support and 17 percent had no preference.

“While no survey, especially a voluntary one, is completely accurate, we feel these results give us a good view of how parents, staff and students view the district,” said Fatme Faraj, the Executive Director of Student Achievement who oversees the annual survey.  “Questions were carefully designed to avoid bias because we want honest feedback from our stakeholders, and we reached out through multiple avenues to encourage as many people as we could to complete the survey so all voices could be heard.”