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Using School Surveys To Prevent Sexual Harassment And Other Title IX Issues

A school district accepted a consent agreement in 2011, following a Title IX compliance review conducted by the U.S. Department of Education. Under the agreement, the district must make certain students are aware of their rights. 

The district responded with a survey of its students and learned some information that caused some concern. According to the survey, only 42 percent of students know how to report an incident of sexual or physical harassment, although 81 percent of students reported knowing an adult at the school they would feel comfortable approaching when they have a problem.

District officials plan to interview returning students to better understand the reason for the contradiction. In the meantime, however, they will be implementing additional education for the students to make certain they understand the definition of sexual harassment and how to report it. The district will use age-appropriate videos for students in elementary, middle, and high schools. Teachers and administrators will also receive new training on discrimination and harassment in schools. Marlene Sokol "Students and teachers in Hillsorough will get more training to combat sexual harassment," www.tampabay.com (Jul. 15, 2014).

Commentary and Checklist

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sexual discrimination in all education programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance.

School districts around the country provide education for their students and staff on preventing bullying and harassment of any kind, but how effective are their efforts? 

The district in the source article used the results of their student survey to address weaknesses in their anti-harassment education. The survey's results, even though contradictory, gave school officials a direction for improving their programs. 

Surveys are an effective way to assess school climate and obtain information about the school community's perceptions, knowledge, and attitudes toward a variety of school issues. Surveys can provide insight into program strengths and weaknesses that are specific to your school community and help administrators make specific improvements. 

The National Education Association suggests educators consider the following factors when assessing their school's programs through community surveys:

  • Develop a reliable and valid assessment that addresses the various aspects of school climate, including harassment prevention programs.
  • Make sure the surveys are quick and easy to administer.
  • Include multiple perspectives in the survey by seeking input from students, families, teachers, administrators, and educational support professionals.
  • Be sure to communicate the findings of your survey to the school community through school-wide and classroom presentations, PTA meetings, or parent newsletters.
  • Take action where needed, using the survey results as your guide. Enlist the help and support of the whole school community.
  • Repeat the assessment on an annual basis to determine if implemented changes have been effective.