Upper School History Teacher Liz Sarles
Upper School History Teacher Liz Sarles teaches students in her classroom while the other cohort participates by Zoom during CA Flex.

Taking stock of student feedback

How did the week feel? For me, it was just too quiet. I missed seeing students and faculty and staff. Our “new normal” at CA has become a familiar routine, and just being on campus means a great deal. My hope is we can bring back our students next week in the model we have been operating under since September.

Student surveys give important information

I love the feedback so many Middle and Upper School students gave in the Back-to-School survey they took just before break. The honesty and transparency of those who took the time to write in answers showed a lot about their character. What came across and impressed me the most was how seriously our students take their learning and how much they care about our community and their fellow students.

  • 80% of our students feel that the level of safety measures are appropriate, while 13% thought there were too many safety measures.
  • A strong majority believes that it is easy to follow the measures the school has laid out to protect the community.
  • 91% of students reported that they know they have a trusted adult they could turn to for help.
  • 50% of students reported that they had met with a teacher individually or in small groups for extra help at least once a week.
  • Another 23% reported meeting once every few weeks for extra help sessions.
  • 60% of students were quite satisfied or extremely satisfied with the amount of time they get to spend with their teachers.
  • 61% reported that it is easy to use the technology in remote learning.

Academic success

We asked students “how sure are you that can do well in school right now?” Their responses were illuminating.

  • Only 3% reported not feeling sure, and 8% felt slightly sure. That speaks volumes to the work of our teachers in trying to set students up for success.
  • 77% reported that they are getting all the help they need with their school work right now. We asked students if there were any specific subjects that they needed help with, and there was not a great difference from pre-pandemic needs.
  • When asked about how happy they were with co-curricular activities, such as arts, athletics, and clubs, there were very strong responses that these are moments of joy and engagement.

Student engagement

Obviously, we expected and wanted to hear some criticism. The most significant concerns raised by Sixth–Twelfth Grade students is how much they miss their friends who are not in their cohort. We know remote learning is really hard on students; however, we have really been in a position in which we need to cohort for safety reasons. We are working on implementing a student testing program, which will allow us to address this concern. Students also wished they had less homework and more time to work on assignments in class. Students noted that working from home can be distracting, particularly when having to take a test or some other major assignment. In free responses, students did offer solutions to many of their concerns.

I have shared out the results with our faculty to ensure that they are hearing the student voice. It came clear that our students do appreciate the work our teachers are doing, and they noted specifically that CA teachers have performed well in the CA Flex model, doing their best to engage learners.

Students, I appreciate what you shared, and I am so impressed with how you are managing a very difficult time in our school’s history. With advances in the development of a vaccine, I see brighter days ahead. I encourage everyone to stay positive. And, always reach out to someone if you ever need additional support.