At Palo Alto High School, surveys are administered by the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) to collect an abundance of data that can be helpful in finding solutions to ongoing issues. While The Campanile recognizes that surveys are important in accurately depicting student opinion, we believe that the current system of conducting surveys does not take the necessary steps to ensure honest, complete responses.
Currently, surveys are generally administered during class periods, tutorial or given to students to complete at home, such as the Healthy Kids Survey, which was issued on Nov. 10. Through this system, students have little incentive to spend their time answering surveys, and as a result, many students respond to questions with little effort and care, which ultimately may cause inaccurate or unrepresentative responses. Student opinion is invaluable and the way in which surveys are administered should create favorable conditions conducive to accurate data.
Thus, The Campanile believes there are alternative ways to collect data about the student body. One solution to the current issue would be to have focus groups more deeply discuss issues instead of having a larger number of students mindlessly click on responses to vague questions in a 10-page survey.
Focus groups would ideally involve students that actually care about the topic, instead of students who are forced to participate. Focus groups leaders could listen to responses from students and guide the conversation in order to get more relevant information based off students’ answers.
While focus groups may be difficult to organize, students should recognize the necessity of taking advantage of a system that will improve their academic experiences. Additionally, surveys may still be an option; however, surveys should be shorter and administered less frequently so that students are not constantly bombarded with long surveys. This way, PAUSD can still receive information about the student body through surveys without forcing students to spend a large amount of their time.
Finally, it is simply logical that PAUSD would want to implement the simplest, most user-friendly system in order to get student feedback. While The Campanile recognizes PAUSD’s attempt to involve students, the current approach is muddled and time-consuming. By implementing focus groups and having more efficient surveys, PAUSD would be able to obtain stronger, more accurate feedback.