‘Tis the season … for surveys!

Over the next several months, we will be asking members of the Cary Academy community what you think … about our community, our classrooms, our programs, our future.

We tell our students that reflection and self-awareness are critical components of growth and improvement. We believe this to be true for adults and our overall organization as well.

Teacher Feedback
Each teacher will ask a similar set of questions designed to assist in professional self-reflection. While our faculty use this process to guide their own reflections, our process has been informed by research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Gates Foundation, which validates the value of student input. Students will also be asked to provide feedback regarding the new advisory program.

To give you a sense, here are a few of the questions asked:

  • I understand what I am supposed to be learning in this class.
  • My teacher wants us to use our thinking skills beyond memorizing information.
  • Our class stays busy and uses time productively.
  • Students in the class treat each other with respect.

Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism
Also this month, all constituents will be asked for feedback regarding community and inclusion at Cary Academy. This survey is administered by the National Association of Independent Schools and helps us understand our community better and plan for further improvements. We last gave the survey in 2008. The results led to the creation of new affinity groups, a minority recruitment plan, and changes to some of our financial aid programs.

To give you a sense, here are a few of the questions asked (on a five-point agree/disagree scale):

  • Fostering an environment where all members of the school community feel included and affirmed is essential to my child’s education.
  • The school provides various opportunities to learn about and appreciate different cultures and ways of life throughout the year.
  • Our family feels respected regardless of our socioeconomic status or class.

Board Focus Groups
In the last year, the Cary Academy Board of Trustees has gone through a significant transition, expanding in size and adopting a new set of bylaws. In its efforts to steward the school, the board would like to hear from Cary Academy constituents regarding the future. To do this, starting in the new year, they will conduct a short online survey and host several focus groups to explore answers to those questions in more depth.

To give you a sense, here is one of those questions:

  • In five years, what components would be present for Cary Academy to be considered among the best independent schools in the world?

Cary Academy Survey
Shortly after our March T2 break, community members will be asked to complete a comprehensive survey to evaluate all aspects the Cary Academy program, from departmental and curriculum effectiveness, to athletics, to school activities. The school has given this national survey twice before, and therefore we have both internal as well as external benchmarks.

In the past, this survey has helped inform both small and large-scale changes to the program at Cary Academy. For example, in 2011 survey responses about homework led the school to review its policies and practices to create a more balanced and sustainable workload for students.

To give you a sense, here are a few of the questions:

  • The school’s mission is widely known and endorsed.
  • The school supports academic achievement.
  • Each student feels well known by the school.
  • Likelihood to recommend the school to a friend, neighbor, or colleague.

No doubt, there will be some slight overlap in the types of questions asked by these surveys. We do our best to try and spread things out to avoid “survey fatigue.” However, in all cases, your feedback is valued and valuable.

Towards a New Strategic Plan
Early next school year, Cary Academy will begin development of its next five-year strategic plan. This comprehensive process will require access to a wide variety of data about current school programs. The data collected from this year’s surveys will be a critical component informing the work our strategic plan committee.

Thank you in advance for helping us reflect and improve as a school.