The purpose of the SLCS is to determine the extent to which North Carolina schools provide a safe, caring, engaging, 21st century learning environment for students, consistent with the new professional standards for teachers and administrators. Designed and validated by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation for use by students in grades 7, 9, and 11, the SLCS measures student perceptions of six constructs: academic engagement, social engagement, 21st century skills, caring and safe school environment, use of technology for learning, and classroom environment.
Instructions for Use
The following checklist is provided to help you plan and implement the SLCS with the 7th, 9th, and 11th grade students in your school.
Planning for the SLCS
- Review the SLCS instrument and supporting documentation.
- Determine who will be your school-based “SLCS Manager”; the person responsible for managing your SLCS implementation at your school.
- Develop a way to keep track of who has—and has not—completed the SLCS. The online system does not record each respondent’s identity.
- Determine how and when students will complete the SLCS. It has been our experience that it is not effective to simply email the SLCS URL to teachers – we have seen 0% response rates using this approach. To assure a response rate high enough to have confidence in your SLCS results (typically, more than 80% of all 7th, 9th, and 11th grade students), it is generally necessary to run respondents through the SLCS in some coordinated way, like in a computer lab at the conclusion of a particular class or class period.
- It may be necessary to provide technical training for your teachers to be sure that they have the skills necessary to use a web-based survey instrument. See Managing SLCS Responses, below.
- Communicate in advance with teachers about the purpose of the SLCS, how it fits into school improvement planning, and how important it is that everyone completes the instrument. Be sure that everyone understands that it is impossible to identify individual respondents among the SLCS data; that data are reported only at the school level; and that the SLCS data will not be used to assign awards or sanctions to individual teachers or schools.
- Define a plan for disseminating SLCS findings to the entire school staff.
- It may be useful to create a shortcut or bookmark on the computers that will be used for SLCS responses, to guide respondents to the correct URL.
Managing SLCS Responses
- When you begin the administration of the SLCS, implement the plan your school developed to assure a sufficiently high rate of response.
- Have someone with appropriate technology skill available to support your students as they complete the online SLCS. The instrument does not require substantial technical skill but it is necessary that respondents know how to open a web browser window, and complete and submit online forms.
- Using the tracking system developed during the planning phase, follow up with any slow respondents, guiding them through the process if necessary.
- Note that it is possible for a respondent to submit more than one set of answers. This is generally not an issue, since few really care to complete the instrument more than once, but it should be kept in mind as a possible source of error.
Using Your SLCS Data
- Convene the School Improvement team.
- Share the SLCS report among planning team members, either by electronic means (with a data projector, for example), or by distribution of hard copies of the report page.
- Use the Interpreting SLCS Data guide to assist school planning efforts.
- Make appropriate inferences from your SLCS data based on the special context and needs of your school.
- Examine your SLCS findings for surprises or unanticipated findings.
- Importantly, revisit and refine the questions that SLCS data were expected to answer. It is not at all unusual to discover that a primary finding arising from SLCS data is that more data is required to really understand issues at hand.
- Consider next steps in the evaluation process. It may be necessary for example to convene groups to discuss why students may have responded to SLCS like they did, or the planning team might examine possible changes to program implementation based on findings.
- Share your SLCS findings with the entire school staff. By doing so, buy-in will be encouraged, increasing the entire staff’s involvement in the evaluation process and raising the likelihood of future participation in data collection activities.