Survey Says: Parents Love Charter Schools

The results are out from the NYC Department of Education’s Learning Environment Surveys, a rich source of information on how parents, students, and teachers view their public schools (district and charter). This year’s surveys elicited responses from over 476,000 parents, over 62,000 teachers, and over 428,000 students in grades 6-12. (Charter schools’ collective responses rates were higher than the city average among all three groups.)

As we noted last year, although survey scores only count for 10 of 115 possible points on NYC DOE’s Progress Reports, they count for a lot more when they direct our attention to bright spots, areas to improve, and opportunities to learn and share.

This year’s surveys again say good things about charter schools:

Charter schools’ biggest differences were in communications and academic expectations. Charter school parents agreed more strongly that “the school has high expectations for my child,” marking the largest difference with district schools in the surveys. Like most of the survey differences, this is a matter of degree: most parents across the city at least “agree” with the statement, but charter school parents are more likely to “strongly agree.”

Aggregate Scores on NYC DOE Learning Environment Surveys 2012
(Parents, Teachers, and Grade 6-12 Students; Excludes District 75)

Parent Responses to “The school has high expectations for my child”:
NYC DOE Learning Environment Surveys 2012 (Excludes District 75)

Charter school parents continue to respond more positively overall. Compared to district parents, charter parents rate their schools more highly in every category: academic expectations; communication; safety and respect; and engagement. This is true across all school grade configurations, though the difference is not always statistically significant.

Charter schools’ survey ratings are strongest in middle school. Survey scores were stronger for charter middle schools than district middle schools in all four categories, and all three respondent groups.

On the other hand:

  • Parents of charter high school students had less positive answers about whether a “wide enough variety of courses and activities” are offered.
  • Charter school teachers responded less positively to new survey items about services for students with disabilities and English Language Learners, across all grade ranges. (Read news coverage about the charter sector’s Special Education Collaborative and the Charter School Students with Special Needs Act.)
  • At combined elementary/middle schools, charter school students had less positive responses in every category. (All student respondents are in grade 6 and up.)

Use the tool below to explore charter schools’ responses in the four survey categories and selected survey questions. Click on a school’s name to highlight it. A larger circle indicates a higher response rate (vs. estimated possible respondents). Note that the vertical scale will vary based on the range of responses.

Network-affiliated charter schools are in red, independent charter schools in blue.