In 1997, the Madison, Connecticut, School Board began
considering a survey of the community. They were asking, "What do
community members know about our schools? What do they feel? What
should we do about it?"
After looking at a number of instruments, the concluded that the one offered
by Gang & Gang, Inc. was the best. Their proprietary approach had been
applied nationwide, but would be tailored for Madison. The sampled
taxpayers, and students in grades 5-12, plus all teachers, focusing on:
The instrument took about 30 minutes to complete since it offered open-ended
prompts. Teachers were the most reluctant; they were concerned about
- Learned a lot about what people did not know. Among other things,
this led to a tri-fold brochure about how policies are developed.
- Board meeting format was changed to include a non-televised, wide-open
community comment period during which board members come out from behind
their desks to talk with the community
- The Board began to give a response to speakers when appropriate.
- The Board established a committee structure with Finance, Long-range
Planning, Personnel (Negotiating, Grievance, & Policy), and Policy
- Very significant negative feedback on the management of central office
staff -- This led to a 2d Gang & Gang project on central office
staff that produced better job descriptions and changed structure.
- From students, they learned:
- High school students wanted more challenge. They fed this result
into their regional accreditation process.
- Middle school students wanted more respect. They turned this over
to the School Improvement Team, which led to work on school climate.
- Fourth and fifth graders wanted foreign language and more advanced
math. This led to a pilot in foreign language the next year in 5th
grade and the hiring of a math and science consultant
Overall, they learned that the were very ineffective at
communication. Gang & Gang were terrific to work with
and they would like to do a follow-up effort. The cost for the two
projects was approximately $25,000 and they are a 3200 student system.