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MASA Leader Winter 2013

MASA Feature Michigan Schools Jump to #17 Nationally in U.S. Community Assessment By William SaintAmour Deffectively compared to national Engagement and PriorityThe survey program,called the Cobalt Schoolespite the challenges, Michiganschools have navigated tough times peers. According to a recent study by Assessment, helps districts the non-profit research coalition Cobalt benchmark about 80 Community Research, Michigan schools measures of perception have improved national ranking in with similarly sized community satisfaction (figure 1). schools across the state based on a current-year In its annual national community baseline index. In addition, engagement and priority assessment, districts can customize the Cobalt found that Michigan districts’ assessment to gather data relative ranking improved from number on budget options, future 23 in 2010 to number 17 in 2012. programs, communication Michigan’s absolute score improved from preferences and bond/ Figure 1 a 57 to a 63. The score is based on a scale millage questions. of 0-100, with 100 as the highest possible score. Summary statewide component The program was developed with The program’s research model scores are listed below in figure 2. the active involvement of MASA measures the performance and impact along with superintendents, board of individual components of school The research began in 2009, when members, teachers and parents across services (experiences) with the value MASA began working with Cobalt the state. The program uses the science the community places on the district Community Research to develop a behind the well-respected University (satisfaction), which in turn drives high-quality, low cost survey program of Michigan American Customer behaviors and perceptions (outcomes). designed to help data-minded school Satisfaction Index (ACSI), so the leaders identify the drivers of family quality of the data is very solid. Many think of surveys as a way to engagement and community satisfaction. measure “satisfaction.” Few think about the rich ways community feedback can identify which district services are most important and which drive behaviors such as keeping children in the district and recom- mending it to others. Thoughtful use of a quality tool helps ensure that parent and community feedback is actionable when making tough budget decisions, crafting strategic plans, strengthening improvement efforts and developing community outreach. Figure 2 22 MASA LEADER • January 2013


MASA Leader Winter 2013
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