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The Campanile

The Campanile

Praise for District’s inclusion of student voice in policy making

Nearly every year, the district makes major policy changes that directly impact Paly’s student body. More often than not, students find themselves feeling unheard without an outlet to share their thoughts. This year, however, the district is surveying a random sampling of junior and sophomore Paly and Gunn students about their ongoing experiences with homework.

The district’s upcoming study is being led by Chris Kolar, director of research and assessment at the district’s Research, Evaluation and Assessment office. Kolar said the district hopes to pinpoint issues with the current homework policy by gathering qualitative data and then using the findings to form future policy.

Focusing on three to five AP and Honors courses, those in blended learning courses and those with historically underrepresented backgrounds, 90 Paly students will be selected to participate over two weeks at the end of February. Students who choose to participate will receive notifications of questions through an app about six times per day in order to maximize the number of data points per day.

Two years ago, the district conducted end-of-semester course evaluation surveys, asking students to provide feedback about their courses’ content. The goal was to give students the opportunity to anonymously communicate criticism and praise to their teachers. The following year, the district did not administer such surveys after they deeming them unproductive, as teachers were receiving the feedback far too late.

The upcoming study is a vast improvement, and The Campanile recognizes and applauds efforts to include student input in a timely fashion.

Kolar said the district is using this evaluation as a jumping off point for conducting other surveys that are more about the experiences of students. The Campanile commends Kolar and the district for using surveys in a purposeful manner to help implement future goals.

According to Kolar, participating students will meet with Supt. Don Austin and PAUSD school board members to discuss their participation in the study. The Campanile thinks the district’s request for student input is instrumental in cultivating a more transparent relationship in which students feel that their experiences are recognized as important.

The Campanile hopes that the district will continue including student input in District policy making.

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