The California School Parent Survey (CSPS) is an important component of a comprehensive, coordinated effort by the California Department of Education (CDE) to help schools foster positive learning and teaching environments that promote academic achievement and youth well-being. The survey was developed jointly by CDE and it’s partners, WestEd and Duerr Evaluation Resources, and is one of three integrated surveys that comprise the California School Climate, Health, and Learning Survey (Cal-SCHLS) System. As a companion to the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) for students and the California School Staff Survey (CSSS) for staff, the CSPS enables districts and schools to compare anonymous student, staff, and parent perceptions about the school, and can help identify fundamental learning barriers and assess the need for learning and teaching supports, particularly in regard to parent involvement in the school community. A district-level report is a standard feature of the survey.
Purpose: Why Conduct the Survey?
Positive relationships among students, parents, teachers, and administrators are a key component of effective schools. Many studies show that parent and other family involvement in children’s learning is a critical element of student success. When families are involved at school, children do better and stay in school longer. The Learning First Alliance, in its report, Every Child Learning: Safe and Supportive Environments (pdf; 2001), emphasizes that when parents feel valued and welcomed in the school, especially those who otherwise would feel vulnerable or ill-at-ease, they are more likely to take active roles in the school and in their children’s education. This participation helps create and maintain a sense of community in the school, and students and teachers are more committed to the school. In addition, in its report on Engaging Schools (2004), the National Research Council stressed that schools, by themselves, can’t create the high levels of engagement and standards for learning that are required for student success. The entire school community, including families and parents, must be involved.
By promoting parent involvement in the school, as well as by providing data on parents’ perspectives on the opportunities and barriers to their involvement in the school community,
the CSPS can help schools develop the kind of school climate and positive environment that have been identified as critical to student success.
Questions the CSPS Can Help Answer
- Do parents perceive the school as communicating well with them?
- Do parents feel like partners in the education of their children?
- Are all students treated fairly, with respect, and given equal opportunities, regardless of their race or ethnicity?
- Do students encounter high expectations for academic success and rigorous classes?
- How much of a problem for the school are student drug use, violence, truancy, etc.?