At the April 5, 2012 regular business meeting of the Jeffco Board of Education, a so called presentation was given by the chief academic officer and the director of instructional data services of the school district. What was being conveyed during this presentation was a smoke and mirrors discussion about the results of the Make Your Voice Heard Survey. This survey is administered to students in grades 2-12 on a biennial basis. Students in Jeffco were directed to take this survey on line, in January/February of 2012.
There were no real results presented at the board meeting. Instead, those in attendance at this meeting were treated to another smoke and mirrors scenario from school principals on activities occurring in select schools to make kids feel more comfortable, none of which had any direct correlation to student achievement. Also revealed at this meeting, for the first time ever, Jefferson County is now tracking results of this survey by individual student ID#’s.
This chain of events is proving problematic for the school district; they are not complying with parent’s requests to view their child’s traceable survey results. After obtaining an open records request specific to the questions administered to kids, the list of questions showed inconsistencies in sequential order that may be indicative of “hidden questions” being asked of students. Therefore, parents want to know, and are being told no to their requests to view their own child’s survey results.
In an email response from Dr. Carol Eaton, Executive Director of Instructional Data Services for Jeffco Public Schools, she states:
“Jeffco Schools decided to administer Make Your Voice Heard (MYVH) confidentially but not anonymously for the first time this year to be able to link student engagement indicators with student achievement data. In order to ensure a good student response rate, we promised to safeguard confidentiality for all MYVH responses and comments. The survey is not designed for student level interpretation; instead it is the aggregation of these data into key groupings which make the data actionable. For these reasons, we do not release individual student data to either district employees or external requests.
It was later revealed on Grassroots Radio Colorado on April 20, 2012, that additional questions were being asked of students. The nature of these inquisitions being asked on the survey, are leaving parents to shudder in disbelief and serious concern. It has been noted by students in attendance of Jeffco Public Schools that some of the questions asked were explicit to gun ownership and abuse within the home. It was also noted that kid’s were being asked to respond to: do you get along with your parents, and are you getting enough to eat? There were also areas on the survey to leave comments.
This is problematic and a full on assault of parental and privacy rights- and most likely a violation of federal law to not release these survey results to parents. Federal law known as “The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act”, (FERPA) provides specific language to the rights of parents and the responsibilities of school districts. Those who believe their rights have been violated are encouraged to file a complaint.
It is unfortunate the Colorado Department of Education maintains no authority of oversight specific to local school districts and this blatant violation of federal law.