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District gets high marks from parents, community in 2020 survey

Aerial view of Kuhlman stadium with water tower in foreground.

Ninety-three percent of Edina Public School (EPS) parents and residents rate the quality of schools “excellent” or “good” according to a recent survey of district stakeholders. The results of the annual survey were presented to the School Board at a work session in early March.

The quality rating is among the highest for districts in the metro area, according to Peter Leatherman, CEO of The Morris Leatherman Company, a Twin Cities based market research firm that conducted the survey in January and February. Morris Leatherman has been conducting survey research for the district for more than 30 years and serves many school districts and municipalities in the metropolitan area. The 2020 survey was conducted by telephone with 400 randomly selected district residents and 300 randomly selected parents. The results are projectable within a +/- 5.8% percent of parents, and +/- 5.0% of residents, in 95 out of 100 cases.

When asked to rate a variety of district descriptors, 97% of parents agreed that EPS “promotes excellence,” and 92% said it was “high achieving.” When asked what they “like most” about Edina Schools, teachers were ranked highest, followed by academic topics such as “broad curriculum,” “high achievement statistics,” and “high quality academics.”

Likewise, parents ranked the district high on indicators of “high quality education”: students pursuing further education, 93%; broad curriculum serving all, 91%; standardized test scores, 89%; state of the art technology, 87%; and reasonable number in classrooms, 69%.

On topics of management and leadership, 75% of total respondents agreed that the district spends financial resources “effectively and efficiently,” and 93% agree that they receive “good value from their investment” in Edina schools. Among the parent respondents, 89% said they trust EPS to do “what is right for their children,” and 80% are “satisfied” with decision-making by the district.

Although “job performance ratings” slipped, they remain high overall with teachers receiving the highest rating at 87% favorable, followed by administration at 76%. Principals rated 75% favorable and the School Board rated 72% favorable.

The survey also asked stakeholders about areas of concern. The highest areas of concern among parents is large class sizes, named by 10% of respondents, and “lack of discipline” and “liberal political agenda” each named by 8%. Thirty-seven percent of parents indicated they had no concerns and 91% said they had not considered taking their students out of the Edina school district.

On questions pertaining to communication and information about the district, 72% of overall respondents said they feel “very” to “somewhat” informed, the highest rating in the past four years. However, the number of respondents ranking timeliness of information as “excellent” or “good” slipped to 71% compared to 80% in 2018. The district website and newsletter are the principal sources of information for parents at 30% and 23%, followed by email. Among residents, however, the website and “word-of-mouth” were both named highest at 21%, followed by the newsletter at 18%.

Respondents were asked to comment on questions related to student success. When asked to name the “most important skills for Edina graduates,” parents and community ranked communication highest at 32% and 34%, respectively. Reading was next highest by both groups at 31% and 29%; followed by money management with 27% by community and 21% by parents; and math at 22% by parents and 16% by community. Among parents, writing was also ranked high at 19%. When asked about the importance of technology for today’s students, 93% of all respondents said it was “essential” or “very important.”

Overall, support for the district is strong, Leatherman reported. A comparison of the quality of Edina schools to three years ago showed a 14% increase from 2018 in respondents who said quality was “better” -- 43% compared to 29% in 2018. Overall, 85% of respondents said the quality of the district was “better” or “the same” as three years ago, and 92% said they are “proud and would recommend the district to others.”