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What do Students, Staff and Families think about RTMSD Elementary schools?

Student Responses

To understand the Youth Truth Survey's Key Measures and the specific concerns of the Students, let’s look at the questions which comprise the ACADEMIC CHALLENGE Key Measure.  The ACADEMIC CHALLENGE Key Measure is the one in which RTMSD Elementary schools compare least favorably to other school districts.

All elementary school students’ questions are multiple-choice
format, using this 3-point scale:

  • 1 = No, hardly ever

  • 2 = Sometimes

  • 3 = Yes very often

A Youth Truth Key Measure Percentile Chart averages the responses for all of the statements in the ACADEMIC CHALLENGE Key Measure (also called a “theme”).  A percentile tells you where your average rating would place your school among all schools when ranked from the lowest school’s rating to the highest.

  • ACADEMIC CHALLENGE’s averaged response is exactly the same, 2.41, in the 2021-22 survey of Elementary STUDENTS and in the 2022-23 survey.

  • RTMSD’s average rating of 2.41 dropped to the 39th percentile because the ratings for the peer elementary schools it is compared to improved for these questions.  This means that about 38% of the other schools had a lower rating by their students for ACADEMIC CHALLENGE and about 60% of the schools’ students gave it a higher rating than RTMSD’s students gave their school.

RTMSD ES Student-Academic Challenge.png

In many cases, it is more revealing, though, to look at the responses to individual survey questions than to only consider the Key Measures’ averaged responses.  This is true for the questions which comprise the ACADEMIC CHALLENGE “theme”.

See that the question “Does the work you do for class make you really think?” focuses on how challenging the classwork to the student, more than the questions on whether the content is interesting or useful. So, this is the question which deserves the most attention.


Also, the averaged responses conceal how serious this is for RTMSD Elementary students – their responses for “interesting” and “useful” are more positive, and raise the average rating and percentile for ACADEMIC CHALLENGE above the very poor 22nd percentile that the “make you really think” question has. 

The RTMSD students’ concern for academic rigor is amplified by two other survey results:

  • The trending – in the 2021-2022 survey, 52% of the students responded “Yes, very often” to “make you really think”.  In this year’s survey, only 43% responded with “Yes”.

  • In a survey question asking “What do you like most about your school?”, RTMSD students ranked ACADEMIC CHALLEGE lowest among 7 provided choices.


“Does the work you do for class make you really think?”
2.36, 22nd percentile

“Do you learn interesting things in school?”
2.51, 41st percentile

“Does what you learn in school help you in your life?”
2.34, 61st percentile

Two final points from the RTMSD Elementary school students’ response:

  • For the question “Do you like going to school?”, students gave their lowest averaged rating, 2.27, which places RTMSD in the 27th percentile, and this rating is much worse than the students provided in the previous school year’s survey – What went wrong? Our students were among the happiest in 2021-2022, but now are among the most unhappy schools!

When rating “What do you dislike most about your school?”,  the CULTURE theme was rated the worst of 7 options provided – also much worse than the previous year’s survey rating.


“Do students stay busy in class?”


“Do students behave in class?”
“Yes” responses dropped from 31% to only 19%

“Do students in your class treat the teacher with respect?”

“Yes” responses dropped from 64% to 49% in one year.

Staff Responses

STAFF’s responses to survey statements are based on a 5-point scale:

  • 1 = Strongly Disagree

  • 2 = Disagree

  • 3 = Neither agree not disagree

  • 4 = Agree

  • 5 = Strongly Agree


RTMSD’s Elementary school STAFF’s primary concerns are the same areas as those reported by Penncrest HS and Springton Lake Middle School’s STAFF and there is an undeniable increase in negative responses between the 2021-2022 survey and this year:

  • ENGAGEMENT - Do not feel that their work is valued

  • RELATIONSHIPS - Students do not treat Staff with respect

  • PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT & SUPPORT - Many more teachers are considering leaving

  • SCHOOL SAFETY - Significantly more Staff report not feeling safe from harm


“I am not seriously considering leaving this school next academic year”


  • In 2021-2022, only 4% DISAGREED with this statement; now 12% DISAGREE, i.e., are considering leaving their school.

  • This problem is particularly troubling at Glenwood (20%) and Indian Lane (17%) elementary schools.


“Students treat staff with respect”

  • In 2021-2022, only 2% DISAGREED with this statement; now 13% DISAGREE

  • At Glenwood 23% now DISAGREE with this statement.


“I feel safe from harm while at my school”


  • In 2021-2022, only 2% DISAGREED with this statement; now 11% DISAGREE

  • At Indian Lane 19% now DISAGREE with this statement.


“I feel that my work at school is valued”


  • In 2021-2022, 12% DISAGREED with this statement; now 15% DISAGREE – this, too, is trending in the wrong direction.

  • At Glenwood 23% now DISAGREE with this statement.

Family Responses

FAMILY responses to survey statements are based on a 5-point scale:

  • 1 = Strongly Disagree

  • 2 = Disagree

  • 3 = Neither agree not disagree

  • 4 = Agree

  • 5 = Strongly Agree


FAMILY survey responses for the RTMSD Elementary schools are positive for all “themes”.  Perhaps one should not expect parents of small children to be very aware of situations within the school buildings, and, so, not have negative impressions to express.  However, the RTMSD parents have reported two areas where there are negative responses which the District should address.


“I feel empowered to play a meaningful role in decision-making at my school”.  


  • FAMILY responses to this statement have an average rating of 3.47 – above “Neither agree nor disagree”, but this places RTMSD schools in the 37th percentile, which is “lower than typical” for Suburban elementary schools.  That is, ~63% of YT schools are rated more positively for involving parents in their school’s decision-making.

  • This rating is also lower than it was reported in the 2021-2022 YT survey.

The most concerning response from the FAMILY survey seem to be:


“My child is safe from bullying during school”
  (3.62, 59th percentile) 
- last year 3.68, ~68th percentile

The average rating is closer to “AGREE” than to “Neither agree nor disagree” and its percentile is close to “higher than typical”.

  • However, this situation at the Media Elementary School and Glenwood ES, specifically, is more serious than the averaged response across all 4 RTMSD elementary schools.

  • For GES, barely half (52%) of the parents responding “Agree” that their child is safe from bullying, and only 57% of MES’ parent Agree. 

  • Conversely, there has been a significant increase in parent survey responses for these schools where the parent, flatly, DISAGREEs that their child is safe from bullying – 17% of MES parents and 16% of GES parents are convinced that their child is not safe from bullying during school.  Both schools’ rating has worsened since 2021-2022.



  • Many RTMSD Elementary STUDENTS no longer enjoy attending their school.  They are also concerned with worsening classroom behavior and notice that teachers are not being treated with respect by students.

  • FAMILY respondents are increasingly concerned that their child is not safe from bullying and also do not believe that they are allowed inside their school’s decision-making, which might mitigate that risk.

  • RTMSD ES STAFF are considering leaving their school – 1 out of every 8 across the District – it was 1 out of every 50 only a year ago! STAFF echoes the Students' observation of lost respect, FAMILY’s concern with a less safe school environment, and lessened appreciation (value) from school administration.

Signal concerns for elementary school STAFF

  • …children are less safe than they were in 2021-2022

  • …students are treating adults with less respect

Signal concerns for SLMS Families

  • …children are more threatened by bullying

  • …families feel less empowered to improve conditions in RTMSD elementary schools


  • It is useful and important to take the pulse of families’ sentiments. Problems can only be addressed once they are recognized.

  • STAFF considering leaving their school is likely a result of worsening safety, respect, and appreciation.  This needs to be addressed directly and quickly – it will be devastating to lose such a large proportion of the STAFF.

  • Order, safety, and stability needs to be re-established in the elementary schools.  Learning cannot thrive in a chaotic, anxious environment.

  • The RTMSD school administration should discuss this with the school board and act to correct the course on which SLMS is headed.

About the Survey

  • Stakeholders in each of the schools of Rose Tree Media School District were administered online surveys designed by www.YouthTruthSurvey.org to multiple groups in the District:  Students (Elementary, Middle, and High School), faculty/staff, and caregivers (parents).

  • The surveys captured the opinions of these different groups about how the District was doing. 
    This week, we will look at the responses from the STUDENT, STAFF, and FAMILY surveys for RTMSD’s Elementary schools – Glenwood, Indian Lane, Media, and Rose Tree elementary schools.

    • Only the students of 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes were surveyed – that is, kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade students were not surveyed.

    • The survey reports do not state whether the staff and families of K-2 students were surveyed.

  • The purpose of these surveys is to get a snapshot of opinion from a broad audience; contrast the RTMSD survey results with those from other SUBURBAN school districts; and use the findings to make improvements to RTMSD.
    Read RTMSD’s stated purpose for at Youth Truth Survey 2022-2023.

  • The surveys are lengthy: 72 questions asked of the elementary school students, 101 of staff, and 67 of Family members.
    The “Youth Truth” (YT) reports which analyze the responses are 116 pages for the Student survey, 154 pages for the Staff, and 110 for the Family survey.
    Weekly Report #5 focuses on the questions which constitute the scoring of its Key Measures, and responses for the schools’ STRENGTHS and AREAS FOR IMPROVMENT.

  • You may download for yourself the RTMSD Elementary School Student Survey Results report, Elementary School Family Results report, and Elementary School Staff Survey Results from the RTMSD website.

  • For an explanation of the YT survey analyses, click here.

  • Scroll down for a list of take-aways from the RTMSD Elementary schools staff and families’ responses.

Survey Tips

  • The trends from the 1st survey to this years’ are the most revealing data points – what changed to cause it?

  • For example, the STAFF survey’s drop in response rate: 

    • From 2021-22 to 2022-23, the Response Rate dropped from 96% to 76%, so the number of respondents decreased from a census of nearly all of the Staff’s population (138) to a sample of 99.

    • Other Staff surveys are reported by YT to have an average response rate of 86%.

  • The FAMILY survey’s response rate dropped even further, from 45% in 2021-2022, to only 24%.  However, YT’s cohort’s average response is 23%This may mean that this survey’s responses (232) may not be representative of everyone (987) who were invited to respond.

  • It is the averaged response which matters most – a Percentile comparison to other schools does not change whether our students said they were satisfied or not, only that others were, relative to other schools, more or less satisfied than our students.

  • Regarding the 5-point answer scale used for the multiple choice answers for this survey, Youth Truth considers a percentile ranking of

    • Above the 60th percentile to be “higher than typical” for the cohort of Suburban middle schools

    • 40th to 60th percentile to be “typical” for Suburban middle schools

    • Below the 40th percentile to be “lower than typical” for Suburban middle schools

What does Staff  think about RTMSD Elementary schools?

  • The Elementary schools’ STAFF survey responses were mostly typical of peer elementary schools in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 surveys. 

  • The responses for the Engagement and Professional Development & Support are “lower than typical” for YT Elementary schools. 

  • No Key Measure’s responses are “higher than typical” in peer schools.

  • The trend chart is more negative for Relationships and School Safety, but the average rating for both remain strongly positive.

What does Families think about RTMSD Elementary schools?

  • The FAMILY survey responses were mostly typical of peer elementary schools in the 2021-2022 survey.  That is, in the 40th – 60th percentile range.

  • Family members’ responses for Relationships and Culture (and, marginally, for School Safety) were “higher than typical” for other elementary schools.

  • Note that the respondents’ ratings are for all Key Measures are positive – an average of 4.0 would mean the respondents “AGREE” with the survey’s statements.

  • There is no marked trend of negative responses.

What does Students think about RTMSD Elementary schools?

  • The Elementary schools’ STUDENT survey responses were mostly “higher than typical” of peer elementary schools in the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 surveys.  That is, greater than 60th percentile.

  • Only the responses for the Academic Challenge Key Measure are “lower than typical” for YT Elementary schools. 

  • No Key Measure’s responses are “typical” for peer elementary schools.

  • There is no marked change, or trend, in the average rating of responses.

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