Thank you, Sonoma County educators, for your interest in participating in the Student Voice Initiative.
Through a collaboration with the Hewlett Foundation, the Center for Effective Philanthropy, the CTE Foundation of Sonoma County, and the Community Foundation of Sonoma County, we are inviting up to five Sonoma County high schools to participate in a two-year Bay Area YouthTruth Student Voice Initiative. If chosen to participate, your school(s) will receive valuable, actionable information about student attitudes and perceptions that can help inform LCAP and instructional strategies now and in the future.
What is the Student Voice Initiative?
The Bay Area Student Voice Initiative aims to understand the extent to which funders, in partnership with local schools, can learn from student perspectives expressed through the research-based YouthTruth survey. Typically, districts pay ~$2,000 per school for YouthTruth’s validated survey instruments and professional development trainings. However, by joining the Bay Area YouthTruth Student Voice Initiative, the selected schools will participate at no cost.
How will it work?
We are looking for up to 5 Sonoma County high school schools that believe that student voice matters and are willing to participate in this experiment. If your school(s) participate:
- You’d partner with YouthTruth – youthtruthsurvey.org – (at no cost) to administer one ~20-minute survey during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 school years (you will also have the option of adding Family and Staff surveys as well);
- Online, interactive reports will be delivered to you within ~7 business days that, we believe, will provide incredibly rich, robust, and valuable data;
- As your sponsoring partner, we will also receive reports which will be utilized in strategic planning efforts;
- You will have the option of helping us create a custom question, or two, to hear from Sonoma County students about the impact of the fires on their learning;
- In-person professional development will be provided to help you and your principals use the data in alignment with your current goals and initiatives; and,
- At the end of each school year, you will be invited to participate in a learning community meeting with all of the other participating districts and funders in the Bay Area to debrief, learn from your peers, provide feedback on the process, and discuss plans for the next year.
I have questions about the survey; who can I speak with?
YouthTruth’s Director of Partnerships, Sonya Heisters is available to answer any questions. You may schedule a conversation directly on her calendar here or contact her via 415.429.5222 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
YouthTruth is a national nonprofit based in San Francisco that has helped thousands of schools across the country listen to and accelerate improvements based on feedback. It was founded in 2008 through a collaboration between the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Center for Effective Philanthropy, and has since surveyed over 700,000 students across 38 states and four countries. Through validated survey instruments and tailored advisory services, YouthTruth partners with schools, districts, states, and educational organizations to enhance learning for all students.
Their climate and culture surveys measure the things that matter most to school climate and culture and creating high performing schools – like student engagement, rigor, relationships with teachers and peers, and school culture. It also provides incredible insights about students’ perceptions of preparedness for college and career, STEM, and PBL – key areas for our particular interest.
In California, many schools and districts use YouthTruth for LCAP, strategic planning, and school improvement plans. For more information, please visit www.youthtruthsurvey.org.
How this is not “just another thing.”
YouthTruth surveys are so comprehensive and easy to administer, that it can actually save schools valuable time and effort. Middle School principal Nikki Hinostro, whose school is featured in the Sundance award-winning film, Most Likely to Succeed gives a 5-minute talk about how she uses YouthTruth data: video here.
Unlike other surveys . . .
- It will be easy to administer. The High School survey is just 55 questions and takes about 20 minutes to administer, and yet is more comprehensive in the themes covered than California Heathy Kids Survey at 120 questions. YouthTruth also provides dedicated project management support – from kick-off webinars to survey proctor scripts, they’ll do the heavy lifting.
- The results will be turned around quickly. You typically get your report back within 7 business days instead of waiting months for your reports.
- It’s designed with school and district leaders in mind. Online, interactive reports allow you to disaggregate by student subgroups like grade level, race/ethnicity, gender, FRPL, and more. Relevant comparisons put your ratings in context so you can see if your ratings are higher than, lower than, or typical, when compared to other suburban schools, schools in California, or other school types of interest. To explore a sample High School report, click here.
- This is a unique, time sensitive, learning opportunity. You are one of many districts invited, and will be joined by other schools in neighboring counties (Marin, the East Bay, the South Bay, and Monterey Peninsula). Not only will you be able to gather valuable data from your students, you’ll also receive hands-on training for using the data to accelerate change against the goals that you are already working toward. This is also a wonderful opportunity to grow your professional network of other educators as well as local funders such as the Hewlett foundation, Marin Community Foundation, Community Foundation of Monterey, and others.