Reliable research data from the state lists the climate in Floyd County Schools as one of the best in the area. Floyd County Schools has historically ranked high in school climate and that was affirmed by state research released just a few months ago in March of this year. This is in stark contrast to a statistically limited survey conducted by the Georgia Association of Educators released this weekend. The state uses data from parents, staff and students to assign Star Ratings to school systems across the state. Schools and systems were rated from 1 to 5 stars in the report. This survey data is developed and controlled by the state to produce the rankings. Nine of Floyd County Schools rated 4-stars or above average in the state report. The system average was 4.32 out of 5 stars. The state requires 70 percent of teachers to participate in their study. The GAE survey was listed as just "over 100" taking the survey.
In the state results, Alto Park Elementary, Coosa Middle, Glenwood Primary, Johnson Elementary, Midway Primary, Pepperell Primary, Pepperell Elementary, and Pepperell Middle earned 5-star or excellent ratings in the report. Nine other schools received a rating of 4 and the other two earned a 3 rating. The state survey rating Floyd County Schools highly in school climate required over 70 percent of teachers to participate and was administered and tabulated by the state.
In contrast, the Georgia Association of Educators survey was taken by “over 100” according to their release and summary but they do not provide an exact number. The GAE summary also does not reveal how the participants were selected for participation in the survey. Since Floyd County has over 1,500 personnel currently working for the school system, 100 participants would not come close to the state requirements for the state survey instrument. The GAE release also reports some taking the survey were GAE members and some were not. It does not provide specific numbers of how many were GAE members and how many were not members. They also do not disclose how that was determined since no questions listed in the summary asked the participants if the person surveyed was a member of GAE.
Not only is the number taking the survey used to formulate the release and news articles published locally related to the survey troublesome but there were no evident controls used in the survey to protect results. The survey could have been taken by 100 people or taken multiple times by much fewer participants.
There is also the issue of questions including factual errors in the survey that would slant the view of the person completing the survey. One question is worded: “Are you aware that your superintendent receives pay increases each year for increasing graduation rates despite the fact that you have been furloughed and gone without raises for the past 7 years?” The superintendent has not received pay increases each year for increased graduation rates. Not only is the question factually incorrect but the question is inflammatory and designed to elicit a negative response. The question clearly shows the intent of the survey’s designers.
The GAE group also failed to provide full disclosure in their study that they are funding a court case with the school system and such disclosure would be ethically required concerning communication of the survey results. Business ethics dictate that the public should know who is providing them with information and if there is a vested interest on the part of the party conducting the survey.
“We have had some difficult obstacles to overcome in the last few years regarding funding but our financial situation is the best that it has ever been in this school system as we finish this school year,” stated Dr. Jeff McDaniel, superintendent of Floyd County Schools. “We have not been able to please all organizations in the process but our teachers, board and administration are focused on providing the best possible education opportunities to the children in our community and helping each child to reach the destination of graduation.” McDaniel added, “We will continue to work with our teachers, parents and community, through the charter system process, to involve everyone in destination graduation for every child because only if we pull together as a community can we be successful.”