To opt-in or to opt-out? That is the question Mason Public Schools Policy and Community Committee asked at the March 16 meeting.
The committee spent a portion of its meeting discussing the upcoming student perception survey.
The student perception survey collects information regarding students’ engagement, belonging and social/emotional learning in Mason schools.
“This survey will help us gather another data set to guide our district and school decisions. Plus, we will be able to compare our data to state-wide data to see where our student perceptions compare to the larger population,” said Craig Kueffner, Director of Student Supports at Mason Public Schools and schools committee member.
This survey will be given to students in grades 5-12 anonymously.
“The district has an equity plan that has been produced from the work of the diversity committee, so this data would help to provide a baseline, then help us see if we are meeting our goals with regard to diversity initiatives in the district,” said Dr. Amy Lark, member of the Policy and Community Committee.
Committee member Michael Kelly asked about allowing parents to opt students into the survey rather than providing the opt-out option.
The board debated whether parents will be asked if they want to receive the survey or whether they want to decline.
An opt-in option would make it so no student took the survey without parental permission.
With the second opt-out option, all students are given the survey except those whose parents who declined permission for the student to take the survey.
As the board ensured, no question is mandatory. A student would have the option to leave all responses blank if they did not want to participate.
“Although it is an individual survey, we will see the collective results and not individual responses,” Kueffner said.
This raised questions about which option would be best.
“Most of us feel really good about it. It’s not something someone just made up. It’s been tested for validity. It’s been used with populations of students already and has been shown to have reliable data,” Lark said.
“I would not like to see the opting topic come up again, but it might. Particularly when it comes to things like sex education,” she said.
In the past, sex education has raised the opt-in vs. opt-out question.
“There will probably be a small number of objectors who will opt out, and that is totally fine. But I don’t think most parents have an issue with it. I don’t anticipate it will be much of a problem. Certainly, there will be a few who choose to opt-out. There’s going to be a few members of the community who choose to opt their children out of every instrument like this,” Lark said.
“We can see if the students of color in our district feel as comfortable as the white students. If everyone feels great, then we’re doing a great job, but if they’re not, which they’re not, then we have more work to do. I think it’s always super important for us to be hearing from the students because that’s the whole reason we’re here, for them,” Lark said.