Written by: Matt Niksa
In January, the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Calendar Committee sent out a survey asking Gunn students, parents and staff about their view of the timing of first semester finals. Members of the committee wanted to understand whether students and parents would prefer to see the exams taken before or after winter break.
The survey had the same guidelines as a survey implemented in April 2012. Because the number of surveyors was not enough to make those results valid, this follow-up survey was created. The Calendar Committee hopes this follow-up survey will attract a greater audience to get accurate student opinions for the school board members.
Calendar Committee Director Scott Bowers not only helps coordinate the committee but also helps facilitate the meetings, prepare materials, provide historical background and conduct the survey. According to Bowers, the committee surveyed students in April 2012 through a random survey of 450 students. The survey was created on SurveyMonkey and was then shared through a survey link to all students who had an Infinite Campus or Naviance account. “The reason we surveyed the students is because we are interested in knowing what they thought about the new calendar,” Bowers said.
Members hope the survey will effectively gauge the response to the new calendar. “I think the survey is a great way for the Calendar Committee to understand the opinions of everyone in the school district,” Calendar Committee student representative Neel Guha said. “It allows us to make an informed decision about the calendar.”
According to Calendar Committee student representative Justice Tention, the committee hopes that this survey will change the way finals are conducted in the future. Since the new schedule was implemented this year for over 4,000 students in the school district, the survey hopefully will distinguish whether the change helped alleviate stress for the students taking finals. “The Committee’s responsibility is to administer a fair survey to gauge student, parent and teacher opinions, and then make a recommendation for the school board on the 2014-2015 year and beyond,” Tention said.
Although the new survey was just sent out, the Committee hopes to conduct even more surveys in the future. “We’re planning on sending out another survey late in the spring,” Guha said. “We’d like to see if opinions had changed given that it’s later in the year.”
The follow-up survey results are still pending. Tention, Guha and Bowers hope the results will be available to them as soon as possible so that future improvement can be made.