Friday, Aug. 14 | By Fauquier Times Staff
The vast majority – 93 percent – of the Fauquier County Public Schools Class of 2015 say they had a positive learning experience in high school. The 837 seniors who participated in the survey gave generally high marks in all 15 areas that they rated as part of the “Senior Exit Survey,” a LifeTrack Services survey administered annually during the final week of the school year.
Fauquier County’s most recent graduates gave slightly higher marks than the previous year’s graduates in most of the areas surveyed.
As the highest rating in the survey, 98 percent of students agreed their teachers were knowledgeable about the subject taught. Teachers fared well on two other survey questions: 97 percent said teachers generally have high expectations for quality work, and 95 percent of students felt teachers were available for assistance with academic concerns.*
Coming in with the lowest rating was the choice of electives as 84 percent of students felt that their high school offered enough elective classes for them to explore different career opportunities.
Ninety-one percent of students felt that counselors and teachers were helpful in the selection of a plan to follow after graduation. The survey showed that 87 percent of the Class of 2015 planned to attend a two- or four-year college upon graduation, 3 percent were going to vocational/technical school, 12 percent planned to work full-time and 14 percent part-time, 1 percent planned to work in an apprenticeship and 5 percent planned to join the military. (Students could select all answers that applied.)
Eighty-six percent of the Class of 2015 felt that students at their high school were accepting of diverse races, religions, nationalities, lifestyles and abilities, a percentage that has edged upward by 1 percent each year since the question was first added to the survey in 2012.
The survey revealed that the Class of 2015 felt safe in school; 97 percent of the students felt their high school provided a safe learning environment.
The survey also revealed the following:
· 85 percent felt that school rules were enforced consistently and fairly.
· 88 percent of students felt that staff cared about them.
· 91 percent of students felt their high school provided a strong foundation in the use of technology.
· 95 percent of students felt their high school was clean, orderly and well maintained.
· 96 percent of students felt their high school’s facilities (buildings and equipment) were adequate to meet their needs.
The Class of 2015 gave high markings to their educational experience at high school with 41 percent rating it as excellent, 40 percent as good, and 15 percent as average for a 96 percent positive rating.*
* Six survey questions are in a yes/no format, and nine allow students to assign ratings of excellent, good, average, below average, or needs improvement. Ratings of excellent, good or average were considered positive ratings and below average and needs improvement as negative ratings. The accompanying chart includes the percentage total for excellent, positive and average ratings in brackets for questions 8 through 16.
FCPS high school principals, who receive survey results for their specific school, share the information with their faculty and staff and also use the data in preparing their annual school improvement plan.
There is a second component to the LifeTrack survey service, and that is when FCPS graduates are surveyed two years after graduation using what’s called the “Postgraduate Survey.” While the response rate to these surveys does not match that of the Senior Exit Survey, the data provides a glimpse of how well students feel the school division prepared them for the world of work or the challenge of higher education at a point they’re actually experiencing those things.
Hearing from the Class of 2013
Surveyed two years after graduation, the Class of 2013 still held their education in Fauquier County Public Schools in generally high regard. Of the 278 graduates who responded (out of 819 contacted), 83 percent felt FCPS had offered them a quality education.
Although as seniors 99 percent of the class felt their teachers had held high expectations for quality work, two years later 78 percent of the respondents felt that way and 8 percent disagreed (not all respondents answered all questions). Seventy-five percent felt the academic standards at their high school had been high enough, and 13 percent did not.
Two years out of high school, members of the Class of 2013 were asked how well FCPS had prepared them in the core subjects plus technology. Their responses:
· Math – 81 percent positive and 7 percent negative
· English – 85 percent positive and 3 percent negative
· Science – 87 percent positive and 2 percent negative
· History – 83 percent positive and 6 percent negative
· Technology –71 percent positive and 6 percent negative
They were also asked how well their high schools had prepared them for entering the work force and for continuing their education. Sixty-six percent felt they had been well prepared to enter the work force (12 percent said no), and 79 percent felt well prepared to continue their education (7 percent said no).
As far as safety, 88 percent of the Class of 2013 felt their high schools had provided a safe learning environment (97 percent of the class had answered affirmatively as seniors).
Two years removed from FCPS, 84 percent of the Class of 2013 rated their schooling in Fauquier County Public Schools as a positive learning experience.
A third component of the LifeTrack survey service involves surveying FCPS graduates five years after graduation; the FCPS Class of 2011 will be the first class to participate in this “Culminating Survey.”