Wednesday, Jun 19th

Superintendent Reveals Results of "Belonging Survey": 1 in 5 Students Have Experienced Bias or Discrimination

BelongingSurveyIn his freshman year as our official Superintendent, Dr. Drew Patrick has worked hard to provide our community with transparency and opportunities for feedback. His effort to work in partnership with all stakeholders has been especially evident in the strategic planning process and in the recent Belonging Survey that was distributed to students, faculty, and parents alike. At the BOE on Monday May 13th, in what was the last Education Report of the school year, Dr. Patrick shared the results of the Belonging Survey and described its connection to the draft of the strategic plan.

In the overview of the Belonging Survey results, Dr. Patrick explained that the findings presented in the Education Report were only the results from the student and faculty surveys, and that the results from the parent survey will be shared at a later date. He went on to give a brief recap of the WIDE (Wellbeing, Inclusion, Diversity, Equity) work that has already taken place in our district and explained that the findings from the Belonging Surveys give the District an opportunity to assess what they are doing well and what they should be doing differently to “ensure everyone in our learning community feels like they belong and are included so they can learn, work, and thrive.”

Dr. Patrick also took the opportunity to remind folks that the District chose to work with the Search Institute and to use their Developmental Relationships and Equitable Practice Survey Tools to conduct our surveys. In discussing the Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework, he emphasized that research proves, “Strong Developmental Relationships in schools are related to strong social emotional competencies, a stronger sense of belonging, and better academic outcomes…in short, belonging is a means to an end and that is to help kids thrive in learning and in life.” What’s more, Dr. Patrick noted that if the District works to develop strong developmental relationships, their students will be able to accomplish the skills outlined in the Districts, “Profile of a Graduate.”

Profile ofGraduate

Developmental Relationships Framework:Slide 9

Before diving deeper into the details of the extensive report, Dr. Patrick highlighted several notable features about the data:

● The Search Institute “scaled” score out of 100: ○ 0-33 = “weak”; 34-66 = “moderate”, and >66 = “strong”.
● Data are not formally benchmarked against other schools, but meant to be a benchmark against ourselves (i.e., when we give the survey again).
● There IS a study we can look at to a relative comparison.
● Faculty-Student response gaps are expected.

Patrick also illustrated how the survey questions were framed to be answered using the Likert scale from 1 (low) to 4 (high) agreement. For example, for a question about ExpressCare, students were asked to rate the statement, “If I have a problem, I know my teachers will help me,” on that scale of 1 to 4. Similarly, a teacher being asked about ExpressCare would rate the statement, “If my students have a problem, I find a way to help them on a scale from 1 to 4.

All survey takers were also asked questions pertaining to the other aspects of the Developmental Relationships Framework including:

● Challenge Growth - Students: My teachers expect me to do my best.
Teachers: I expect my students to do their best.

● Provide Support - Students: My teachers teach me how to ask for help when I need it.
Teachers:I teach my students to ask for help when they need it.

● Share Power - Students: My teachers give me chances to be a leader.
Teachers: I give my students chances to be a leader.

● Expand Possibilities - Students: My teachers help me discover new things that interest me.
Teachers: I help my students discover new things that interest them.

Giving a thorough explanation of all of the results, Dr. Patrick went on to unpack a lot of information. Here are some of the highlights:

Some 2,578 students in grades 4 through 12 and 960 faculty members participated in the survey. Of the highschool students who took the survey 9% Identify as LGBTQIA+, 10% of all students report being in or having been in ESL/ELL Programming, and 17% of all surveyed students report having an IEP (or possibly 504).

Overall the District (students and faculty) scores fairly strong on the Developmental Relationships survey. While there is room for improvement in all areas, the only area of the survey where both students and faculty scored in the moderate range was in the category of “Expand Possibilities/Connect Me With People and Places that Broaden my World.”

Slide 22

While the survey is meant to help the District measure its own growth from the first surveys taken to all surveys taken in the future, The Search Institute did provide data that shows that Scarsdale’s first survey results are slightly stronger than data from a study involving 12,796 students (grades 6-12) & 1,206 adults.

Slide 23

In regard to the Equitable Practices Survey, the data shows that in general, our students report that our schools reflect a strong, culturally responsive environment.

Slide 29

But in what Dr. Patrick described as a “Take my breath away moment,” this survey also found that 1 in 5 students here in Scarsdale report experiencing some form of bias or discrimination, attributed to their peers, teachers, or both. From most frequent to least frequent, students report other reasons, gender, race, religion, age, economic status, and sexual orientation as reasons for being looked down on or treated badly.

Slide 34

In looking at the results of how Developmental Relationships in our schools promote equity, slide 35 of the presentation demonstrates clearly that there is room for growth.

Slide 35

Wrapping up his report, Dr. Patrick posed the question, “How can we be more intentional about cultivating relationships with our students” and described strategies like creating a shared understanding of developmental relationships and making sure our students tell us about their experiences.

He also drew attention to the strategies faculty can use to be more inclusive in our efforts to cultivate relationships with our students. Some of the strategies include:
- Assess who is and isn’t experiencing a sense of belonging.
- Be culturally aware and responsive.
- Affirm the identities of all students.
- Provide opportunities for student voices to be heard, and show support through action.

For a deeper understanding of all of the survey results you can see the presentation here.

The Education Report also included an update on the District’s Strategic Plan, starting with an explanation of the planning process and how the work thus far has culminated in new goals, action areas, and a thoughtful and comprehensive vision statement. As he explained, “Over the past nine months our students, faculty, staff, parents, and the broader community have been invited to participate in events designed to develop our collective understanding of the forces impacting teaching and learning, identify what we value most about the Scarsdale education, and contemplate new and novel approaches to our work.” These events included both in person and virtual “World Cafes,” online surveys, and a variety of opportunities for student input.

Patrick went on to explain that to determine the collective impact of all of the information garnered from the events he, with the help of over sixty faculty participants from each of our schools, participated in an STI course to organize, synthesize, and analyze all of the feedback. Unsurprisingly, the feedback reveals that there is a lot of overlap between parental and faculty values and from the analysis, six main themes of shared values emerge:

Academic Skills
Life Skills
Technology and AI
Social and Emotional Learning
Global Awareness and Citizenship
Preparation for future Careers


Dr Patrick slide 7

These six themes which correlate strongly with the results from the Belonging Survey, in addition to inspiration derived from our school’s shield, helped to shape the first draft of our District’s new five-year strategic plan.


Dr Patrick slide 12
Dr Patrick slide 13

In his presentation, Dr. Patrick went into further detail and outlined the action areas as they pertain to Learning, Living, and Leading. For example:

Dr Patrick 14

To see the slides describing the action areas of the other Big Ideas of Living and Leading, you can see the presentation in its entirety here:

After the Strategic Plan presentation, members of the Board of Education were given the opportunity to ask questions and provide feedback. During this time, BOE member Robert Klein remarked that for the sake of transparency, he would like to see tools for evaluating progress and other metrics, embedded in the draft of the plan. He would also like the plan to articulate why the District might put more emphasis on one domain or category than others and to make clear that all efforts are not equal in the amount of energy required to deliver on them. He suggested that using a checklist could be a helpful visual que.

Colleen Brown applauded the use of student input in the Strategic Plan but wanted to make sure that the District includes the voices of students less likely to be involved in student government or other student advocacy/focus groups, stressing that all student voices need to be heard and considered in this process.

Each of the other BOE members in attendance also chimed in with their thoughts and questions. To see their comments you can watch a recording of the meeting here:

Not to be overshadowed by a meeting packed with intriguing updates, Director of Human Resources, Meghan Troy announced the new Assistant Principal at Scarsdale High School Ms. Laura Weiss. After a warm welcome and round of applause, Weiss took to the podium to share that this is truly a dream job for her and that she has admired the Scarsdale District from afar. She believes Scarsdale will be a wonderful place to work and a good fit for her particular skill set.

The Board of Education began the night’s meeting with a State Budget Hearing, a legal hearing that gave a brief overview of the proposed budget. You can find a detailed guide to the proposed budget in the most recent issue of the Insight Magazine. Copies of the magazine were sent by mail to every Scarsdale resident or you can find it here:

BOE President Ron Schulhof encourages everyone to vote on May 21 at the Scarsdale Middle School Gym 134 Mamaroneck Ave. Voting will be open from 7 am - 9 pm and parking will be available in the lower circle parking lot.

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