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Elmsford School Lures Parents Into Survey

?ELMSFORD, N.Y. — The administrators of Alexander Hamilton High School did something different for its back-to-school night Wednesday. They offered the parents a nice dinner as a way to attract them to the event.

There was, however, a catch.

Before they could enjoy the ziti and the brownies that were part of the menu, parents had to complete a survey created by students from the statistics class.

By asking what school events they usually attend and how closely they follow their children's school assignments, the eight-question survey probed the parents’ involvement in the school's community and in the students' academic development. It also asked the parents what services they would like to have in the school, out of a list that included weight watchers, driver’s education, bereavement groups and private music lessons.

“We get to know what they say, what they think,” said social studies teacher Elizabeth Asaro. “Then we are going to design a program to meet their needs.”

Asaro said that the idea of a parent survey came out of a brainstorm session 15 teachers and the principal conducted in May, in order to find ways to make the school more successful. Statistics teacher Lori Schulze volunteered to have the survey done by her class since she saw it as a good opportunity to practice the tools she teaches, such as how to collect data and how to tackle a population.

“It fit beautifully in the curriculum,” she said.

During Schulze’s classes, students looked at all the questions proposed by the teachers and devised a meaningful, easy-to-fill questionnaire.

“We took those questions and kind of rebuilt them,” said Jennifer Glen, 17, who translated the survey into Spanish.

Schulze said she expects the survey to be answered by parents of at least 100 from the more than 400 students in the school, which she said is a statistically adequate sample.

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