Findings in Bernards School 'Climate and Culture' Survey Presented to Public

Credits: Walter Pardo

BERNARDS TWP., NJ - About eight in 10 Ridge High School students said they think classmates commonly stay home from school if they are unprepared for a test or an assignment.

About one-third of students said they spend around four or more hours a night on homework, according to another finding in a survey previously filled out by about 1,000 Bernards Township students, about 500 parents, and also school staff.

Results of the survey were publicly presented at Monday's Board of Education meeting. The 199-page survey summary will soon be posted by the school board’s website on “presentations" page, said Schools Superintendent Nick Markarian.

Sign Up for E-News

More than 90 percent of students surveyed also said they spend two or more hours using social technology after each school day. About one-quarter said they were well rested for school on most days, with 29 percent saying they felt well rested about one-half of the time.

Academic pressure said to be greatest challenge

Two-thirds said academic pressure was the greatest challenge for them.

Such were some of the more provocative results heard by the school board from the Climate and Cultural Survey conducted at the end of the last school year.

The survey was conducted of students, staff and parents at Ridge High School, Annin Middle School and Liberty Corner, Oak Street and Cedar Hill elementary schools from mid-May to mid-June. Mount Prospect Elementary had conducted a similar survey recently and those results will be used, Markarian said.

The superintendent took about an hour to review the survey questions asked of Ridge High students, parents and staff. Other results reflected the same methodology and questions, pertinent to grade level, at the four other schools, he said.

The district used a state Department of Education School Climate Survey, supplemented by questions drafted by district educators and “conjectured about in conversation” over the year, he said.

He prefaced his remarks by saying he was sharing the information, and not venturing into cause and effect.

Questions were divided into eight areas, called “domains,” covering physical environment, teaching and learning, morale, relationships, parental support and engagement, safety, emotional environment and administrative support.

In one of the district-written questions, 71 percent of high school staff said the curriculum was appropriate for students. About 41 percent said they felt the amount of curriculum was appropriate, while almost 36 percent said too much was packed in the curriculum.

About 107 of about 130 staff members responded to the voluntary survey.

More than 500 parents – perhaps one-third of households, estimated the superintendent – filled out the online survey. 

Parents said the district-produced email Friday Folder was the most-often viewed communication vehicle they used. About 55 percent said they thought the appropriate amount of homework was given, while 40 percent said they thought it was too much and five percent said it was not enough.

About one-quarter of parents said they regularly pay a tutor to help their children keep up with studies. Another 28.5 percent said they occasionally hired help, while 38.5 percent said they never did.

Slightly more than 1,000 students in an approximately 1,800-member student body filled out the survey using Chromebooks in classes.

Students were also asked their feelings about one common lunch period for all students, a consideration as the district mulls going to a “rotating drop” schedule in which students would attend six of scheduled eight classes in any given day.

About 28 percent of students said they were OK with the idea, if it meant they could eat lunch with friends, and even if it meant fewer lunch menu choices.

The survey will be directed to each school’s safety team of guidance counselors, other staff and administrators to develop suggestions for action to address areas of concern.

Board members sparred over how they would analyze the survey results. The majority decided to refer the study to the four-member ad-hoc Social Emotional Learning Committee, a decision objected to by board member Michael Byrne. He said he thought the discussion should be held by the whole board should discuss because it encompassed areas that go beyond issues of suicide prevention, one of the main concerns of the SEL Committee.

He said he felt he doesn’t feel he often gets full feedback and detailed information from committees, to which other board members castigated him for not reading board and committee minutes and background material before meetings.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Like

Sign Up for E-News

Basking Ridge

Think Pink: Somerset County Hosts Breast Cancer Awareness Event Oct. 25

October 19, 2017

NORTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Somerset County Freeholder Patricia L. Walsh will join Zufall Health and the Regional Chronic Disease Coalition of Somerset and Morris Counties in launching the 14th annual Breast Cancer Awareness Month Wednesday, Oct. 25, at 12:30 p.m. in front of the North Plainfield Borough Hall at 263 Somerset St. 

The public is invited to ...

SRF's Craft Beer & Wine Tasting/Meet and Greet rescheduled to Nov. 4

October 14, 2017

MILLSTONE TOWNSHIP, N.J. —The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) is rescheduling the Craft Beer & Wine Tasting/Meet and Greet that was arranged for this Oct. 14 to Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017 from 4 to 6 p.m. at 42 Arneytown-Hornerstown Rd., Cream Ridge, N.J.

The Meet and Greet will coincide with SRF's seasonal kick off of a month long adoption special. From ...

Want to Take Your Business Global? New Jersey Businesses Eligible for Grant Funding

October 12, 2017

Are you a New Jersey business owner who has already realized the potential of a global market or an entrepreneur seeking to increase sales and profit by taking your business worldwide? 

The New Jersey Business Action Center (BAC) has been awarded a $606,151 State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help New Jersey companies gain access to ...

Vote YES on Ballot Question 2

October 18, 2017

If you are concerned about having clean water and clean air in New Jersey, you should vote YES on Ballot Question Number 2 on Nov. 7. Voting yes on this question is voting to use funds collected from natural-resource damage claims against polluters to fix the damage done, or, if that’s not possible, to restore nearby areas. If passed, it would prevent these moneys from being siphoned ...

Upcoming Events

Thu, October 19, 12:00 PM

Bernards Township Library, Basking Ridge

Big Screen Thursdays In October At the Bernards ...

Arts & Entertainment

Thu, October 19, 5:00 PM

Dunellen High School, Dunellen

Italian Choir appearing in Dunellen's Founders ...

Arts & Entertainment


Fri, October 20, 3:00 PM

Body Restoration , Berkeley Heights

Pink Ribbon Program Instructor Training

Health & Wellness

Morristown Medical Center Again Recognized as One of ‘America’s 100 Best Hospitals’ for Cardiac, Orthopedic and Joint Replacement Care by Healthgrades®

October 18, 2017

Only Hospital in New Jersey to be named one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals for Cardiac Care™ for seven consecutive years and among top five percent of hospitals in the nation for GI Medical Treatment

MORRISTOWN, NJ  – Morristown Medical Center, part of Atlantic Health System, has again recognized as one of America’s 100 Best Hospitals™ for Cardiac Care, ...

Family Health

Second Opinion on Breast Cancer Program Offers Peace of Mind

A breast cancer diagnosis can change a person’s life. And during such devastating news, the sheer amount of information regarding treatment and follow-up care can quickly become overwhelming. However, patients are not alone in this fight. Atlantic Health System’s Breast Cancer Second Opinion Program at Carol G. Simon Cancer Center, Overlook Medical Center, is helping provide peace of ...