Wednesday, September 30, 2015

¿COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT BY ROBOCALL? - 4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit:

4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit: ¿COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT BY ROBOCALL?: L.A. Unified wants to know when parents want school to be in session (Redux):

¿COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT BY ROBOCALL?: L.A. Unified wants to know when parents want school to be in session (Redux)

Phone survey seeks input for three-year school calendar


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30 Sept 2015  ::  Los Angeles school district officials are considering redoing a telephone survey after technical glitches complicated a weekend attempt to determine parents' and employees' opinions about the academic calendar.
The survey sought feedback on when the school year should start, how long winter break should last and how important it is to have the same days off for elementary and secondary schools. The district also wanted to know how people feel about having the first semester finish before winter break and about the timing of enrichment and intervention programs.
The effort arose out of discontent with the L.A. Unified School District's decision to move up the start of the traditional school year into August, rather than beginning after Labor Day, in September.
Calls went out to 550,000 households, including both parents and employees. The automated phone system made the first attempt Friday night, and then tried again on Saturday if it collected no information.
But the system’s software is designed to pause if there is noise on the receiving end. And background noise, apparently, was enough to derail the effort. In all, the phone system collected 58,000 surveys, but the district also received about 50 complaints.
“Some people said they couldn’t respond to the survey,” said Paul Ishimaru, an administrator in operations who manages the phone system. With background noise over a certain level, the system “may either attempt to start and then stop, and or it may never deliver the message.”
One option for an academic schedule would be a significant departure from past practice: a five-week break in summer and a seven-week vacation in winter.  Although that alternative was one of six presented to a calendar committee, officials have not seriously considered such a schedule in recent times.
The survey presented that approach by asking parents if they would like a “year-round” style calendar that allowed for four-week intercession classes in both the winter and summer. These courses would allow students to catch up or get ahead academically.
In past years, there was no phone survey. Instead, district staff worked out the schedule with input from employee unions. The calendar then went to the Board of Education for approval.
On the recommendation of Supt. Ramon C. Cortines, the district had switched to the earlier, August start in 2011. The goal was to allow high school students to avoid having first-semester finals after winter break.
Before the switch, parents were able to weigh in with their views on the calendar through an online survey, but few participated.
Since then, a contingent of parents has been persistently unhappy over the early start. For one thing, they said school was in session during more of the intense heat of summer, especially a problem in the San Fernando Valley.
Some parents also had greater difficulty scheduling vacations and summer enrichment programs for their children. Parents turned in petitions with thousands of signatures requesting that school begin after Labor Day.
The district bent a little this year, starting later in August.
The discontented parents had an ally in school board member Richard Vladovic, who wanted the issue revisited, and Cortines agreed to4LAKids - some of the news that doesn't fit: ¿COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT BY ROBOCALL?: L.A. Unified wants to know when parents want school to be in session (Redux):


Sep 30, 2015  ::  In an effort to get as much input as possible into the planning process, LAUSD is polling parents, teachers and other school-site staffers about the upcoming school calendar.
More than 58,000 people responded last Friday and Saturday to the survey, which seeks information about what date the school year should start and when the first semester should end, how long winter break should be, whether elementary and secondary schools should be on the same calendar and how enrichment and intervention programs can best be accommodated.
The results will be compiled for a calendar committee convened by Superintendent Ramon C. Cortines. Rather than having to go through the process annually, he instructed the panel to recommend calendars for the next three years – through 2018-19.
“Our students and our employees and their families should be able to plan ahead,” the superintendent said. “This is not a debate that we should be having every year.”
The school calendar has become a contentious issue since 2012, when the school board instituted an “early-start” schedule, beginning classes in mid-August rather than after Labor Day. Critics complained that the early start to the school year cut into family vacations or put kids in classrooms during the sweltering summer days. Others, however, said that finishing first semester before winter break was better for them academically.
This year’s start date was Aug. 18, an effort to broker a compromise between the two sides.
The calendar committee is currently looking at six options; five of them would start school in early to late August, while the sixth would have a post-Labor Day start. The proposal, dubbed Option 5, includes a seven-week winter break and an official summer break of just five weeks, which would give students the opportunity to make-up classes or to take enrichment classes.
The phone poll had been scheduled to end on Tuesday, but some respondents reported that they were unable to complete the survey because of technical difficulties. As a result, Mr. Cortines has extended the deadline.
The District did a survey prior to implementing the early-start calendar, but it was conducted online and generated limited results.
“We opted to do a phone poll this time so that we could reach all parents, teachers and other employees who work at all of our schools,” said Zsuzsanna Vincze, director of School Operations.  “This is an important issue, and we want to make sure we get feedback from as many people as possible.”
School Board member M├│nica Ratliff suggested a phone survey during discussions of this year’s calendar.
“I greatly appreciate Superintendent Cortines’ commitment to gathering feedback from the many stakeholders who lack internet access, and I look forward to reviewing this feedback. While internet surveys can appear easier to conduct than telephone surveys, they do not allow us to access the opinions of the many families who lack Internet access.”
“I was, obviously, disappointed by the reports of some technical difficulties that arose with the phone surveys. I commend the Superintendent and staff for their quick and diligent responses to these reports and for their commitment to facilitate input on the instructional calendar.”
More about Barbara Jones

Parents, teachers and other school-site staffers are expected to opine-in-an-informed-manner  upon the following in a telephone survey – a blind call –without the benefit of actually seeing the following?