District’s distance schooling wins overall high marks, but large portion of parents say not enough work


The majority of respondents to the Pelham school district’s distance learning survey expressed overall satisfaction, with 60% of elementary parents, 68% of middle school parents and 61% of high school parents describing their experience as good, very good or excellent, and 71% of middle school students and 64% of high school students reporting the same.

(As three of the five answers to the overall experience question counted toward a positive rating, the survey’s structure may have skewed the results. Polling results are published here, though as bar charts representing numbers of respondents.  Below, the Pelham Examiner is offering links to download the district’s pie charts with percentages.)

In the survey, 29% of 689 elementary parents said their children were not spending enough time on academic work, 49% of 224 middle school parents and 39% of 193 high school parents.

In elementary school, 28% disagreed or strongly disagreed that morning and afternoon meetings supported their children’s academic needs.

About a quarter of middle school and high school parents gave a negative rating to whether their children’s academic needs were being met while buildings are closed, the survey said.

From the high school student survey, 46% percent said their social and emotional needs were being met, while 21% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Thirty-three percent were neutral.

The district sent out the surveys on April 17 to Pelham parents and students to gain feedback on the virtual learning program. According to an update from Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Champ on Monday, the district has been “working hard to analyze this feedback, identify where there were common themes, and determine prudent and feasible changes to the program that would help as many students with their learning as possible.”

Champ said it is clear to the district where there is room for improvement, and outlined a number of changes that will be occurring at the elementary level.

For elementary students, participation in afternoon sessions will now be mandatory. These time slots will be used by teachers to provide feedback and support to students and may include a combination of group work, individualized instruction or full classroom session. According to Champ, “teachers will use this time flexibly to best address their instructional objectives and the needs of their particular students.” Morning sessions will include “a balance of social-emotional connection and learning related to the day’s lessons.”

New directions will be added to two-day lesson plans to better aid parents in facilitating their children’s learning. Resources are also being provided in order to emphasize the core curriculum subjects of English language arts, math, social studies and science, allowing consistency across the grade levels.

For middle and high school students no changes are being made. In her email, Champ said students are expected to continue to attend their scheduled classes and complete assignments, as mastery of the course material is still being measured, despite the cancellation of final and Regents exams.

Champ also told middle and high school parents that while there are no scheduled classes on Fridays, teachers are “working to plan lessons collaboratively, participating in faculty/department meetings and professional development, participating in team meetings and meeting with students individually or in groups on a case-by-case basis.”