For over a decade, Park Hill School District in Kansas City, MO, has been on a journey to improve school quality and to create a positive learning climate for its 11,000 students. School and district leaders at Park Hill care deeply about stakeholder feedback, and have heard from students and families that a safe, caring school environment is essential to the district’s vision of “building successful futures - each student - every day.”
Given this strategic focus on school climate, district administrators sought a more valid and reliable way to gather feedback from students about their learning environments and relationships at school.
“Previously, we came up with our own survey items or picked the most valuable questions from different places,” said Dr. Mike Kimbrel, executive director for quality and evaluation. “With Panorama, we found a robust, research-backed school climate survey for measuring the topics that are important to our customers, as well as the ability to visualize and contextualize the data.”
Today, educators at Park Hill are using Panorama data to make meaningful strides toward a school climate in which students can excel.
"On our journey to improve school quality, we asked ourselves, ‘Are we meeting the requirements of our students and families?’ One of those requirements is a safe, caring, welcoming environment, and we now have a better tool to measure that in a reliable and valid way."
– Dr. Mike Kimbrel, Exec Dir, Quality & Evaluation, Park Hill (MO)
Key Trend: Not All Students Report a Sense of Belonging
In Park Hill’s recent Panorama survey, students reflected on several aspects of their experience at school, including Teacher-Student Relationships, Belonging, Climate, and Safety. Many of Park Hill’s results ranked in the 70th percentile or higher compared to data from similar districts—a benchmark that the district strives to hit.
For the Belonging topic, however, Park Hill’s score was in the 50th percentile, right in the middle of similar districts. Because this did not meet the district’s high expectations, school and district leaders looked at this as an opportunity to grow students’ sense of belonging, asking the question, “How can we create a more welcoming school environment for students?”
National benchmarks in Panorama compare Park Hill's results to those of similar districts
Park Hill's Strategies to Boost Student Belonging
Park Hill administrators have been working to deploy two new programs around increasing student belonging, and this data underscored the importance of these efforts.
- Culturally responsive teaching: Following the framework developed by researcher and author Zaretta Hammond, Park Hill has begun implementing culturally responsive teaching in its buildings. The strategies are meant to ensure that every student—regardless of culture, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, or English-speaking status—feels like a valued member of the school community.
- AVID program: Park Hill is bringing the AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) college-readiness program to its middle schools as well as piloting it in elementary schools. The district theorizes that, by creating a common academic language and increasing student engagement through AVID, students’ sense of belonging will also improve.
With these strategies in place, Park Hill plans to routinely monitor the impact of this work with Panorama—ensuring that the student voice continues to be heard and understood.