Asst. Supt. David Holdzkom is defending the school calendar survey he helped develop.
As noted in today's article, supporters and critics of the new Wake County school board majority are raising concerns about the survey methodology. But Holdzkom said he believes the survey will provide useable results for the school board as it weighs calendar decisions.
One of the concerns, voiced by Joe Ciulla of the Wake Schools Community Alliance, is that "a really devious person" can put in another student's NCWISE number to complete the survey. Surveys will be tossed if the same ID number is used more than once.
Holdzkom said they're not worried about some large organized efforts to enter other people's NCWISE numbers to get surveys tossed. He said it would take “an incredibly huge number of fraudulent attempts” to influence the results.
If it's an issue, Holdzkom said they can do two separate analyses. One analysis would be based only on the surveys being counted. The other would include every survey response.
Holdzkom said they can compare the two analyses to see if there's a difference in the results.
Even if a person isn't maliciously entering another person's NCWISE number, the system won't tell you if you've made a mistake and put in the wrong or invalid number.
Holdzkom said they didn't want to risk the "integrity' of the school system's databases by linking them to the Zoomerang program. He said people take online surveys all the time so they can be expected to know what to do.
Another complaint being voiced is that the one response per student rule negatively impacts parents who have joint custody agreements. Geoffrey Hurlburt of Wake Forest said this affects a lot more families than you may think.
Holdzkom said it's not as much of a concern because the surveys themselves won't lead to a change in calendar for a student. Now if the school board make a change based on the survey results, that's another matter.
A complaint from critics of the new board is that going to an online survey will result in low-income and minority families being underrepresented.
Holdzkom pointed out that parents can request a paper survey. He said there's just no way to know how many low-income families will respond.
Yevonne Brannon of the Great Schools in Wake Coalition said they should have gone back to providing paper surveys to all parents if they wanted a better response. That option, previously agreed to by the board on Dec. 15, could have cost $80,000 because of postage.
A predominantly online survey is far cheaper.
Brannon said some parents aren't comfortable with contacting their child's school for any reason, including requesting a paper survey.
Brannon said some parents are also concerned about the loss of anonymity by tagging NCWISE numbers to the surveys. The numbers are being used to try to confirm that valid responses are coming from each school and to eliminate stuffing the box.
Holdzkom said the plan is to only report results from a school if at least 33 percent of parents respond. If it falls below that threshhold, they'll only report those responses in the district total.