Thoreau Evaluation Process Update

Below please find a memo from Meg Anderson updating where we are in the evaluation process. Thanks -Jen & Shelagh

Meg Anderson

Educational Consultant

Thoreau Evaluation: Process Update as of 1-7-13

Purpose of the Evaluation:

The purpose of the evaluation is to identify the qualities of the school culture at Thoreau, in particular in the three areas of concern noted in the TELL Mass Survey, collaboration, decision-making, and communication. This evaluation, along with the Thoreau faculty’s own analysis of the TELL Mass Survey results, will serve as reference points for the faculty from which to create an action plan to move forward toward a more positive and collaborative school culture.

All interviews and observations at Thoreau are finished; data analysis and writing of the report have now begun. The final report will be completed by mid-January. Recommendations as a result of this evaluation about how to strengthen the school culture will be shared first with the school community in multiple meetings, beginning with those who work in the school. Meetings with the external evaluator and the school community will be scheduled for the latter part of January, and the final report will be presented to the School Committee in February.


Evaluation Process: The study gathered qualitative data taken from interviews, surveys, and observations. This included staff and faculty interviews, parent interviews (Table 1) meeting observations, and classroom observations (Table 2) as well as interviews of the principal, superintendent, and director of teaching and learning. All faculty and staff were given the opportunity to sign up for an interview singly or in pairs between November 7*“ and November 3061. All full time faculty and full time support staff were interviewed, as well as 54% of the special education tutors and instructional assistants, one playground supervisor, and both administrative assistants. Interviews averaged 45 minutes in length.

Parents were given the opportunity to participate in interview groups in December and through a parent survey. 33 parents were interviewed. Information from four additional parents was gathered through emails or phone calls because they were unable to attend any of the four, scheduled parent interview sessions.  Participation in both parent interviews and surveys was voluntary rather than by random   selection and therefore cannot be seen as representative of the whole of Thoreau families; however, they served to raise important issues and trends and those who strove to see multiple perspectives outnumbered those on either end of the range. Group interviews averaged 45 minutes in length.

In addition, a survey link (to survey monkey) was sent through the PTG to all parents. Questions for interviews and for the survey addressed the same three     areas of concern from the TELL Mass Survey. 118 out of 350 families responded to the survey, or 34% of Thoreau families.

Table 1 Interviews

Interviews Number Interviewed Comments
Full time teaching faculty


Including special   education, music, art teachers, 1 gym teacher, 2 teachers on leave
Curriculum specialists


Support staff


Including social worker and   psychologist, speech and language therapists, media specialist, nurse,   reading specialist, occupational therapist, instructional technology   specialist
Admin. Assistants


Special Education, Tutors,   Instructional Assistants


Playground supervisor




Parent info gathered via   phone or email




Including superintendent,   principal of Thoreau, director of teaching and learning



Table 2 Observations

Observation type/ group   Observed Number of observations in   that category Comments
Faculty meetings


SAC meetings


SLT meetings


With Math Curriculum

specialist; looking at data

Grade level meetings


With Math Curriculum

specialist; looking at data

Grade level meetings;   teacher led


Classroom observations


Observation time 10-15 min.

each classroom


Meg Anderson