Madison School District Online Survey: “Embedded Honors” High School Courses

via a kind reader’s email. The survey is apparently available via the District’s “Infinite Campus” system:

1. The Embedded Honors option provided work that was challenging for my child.
o Strongly disagree
o Disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Agree
o Strongly agree
2. Please provide an explanation to Question 1.
(empty box)
3. The Embedded Honors work allowed my child to go more in-depth into the content of the course.
o Strongly disagree
o Disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Agree
o Strongly agree
4. Please provide an explanation to Question 3.
(empty box)
5. For Embedded Honors, my child had to do more work than other students.
o Strongly disagree
o Disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Agree
o Strongly agree
6. For Embedded Honors, my child had to do more challenging work than other students.
o Strongly disagree
o Disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Agree
o Strongly agree
7. Mark the following learning options that were part of your child’s experience in the Embedded Honors for this corse.
o extension opportunities of class activities
o class discussions and labs to enhance my learning
o flexible pace of instruction
o access to right level of challenge in coursework
o opportunities to focus on my personal interests
o independent work (projects)
o opportunities to demonstrate my knowledge
o opportunities to explore a field of study
o additional reading assignments
o more challenging reading assignments
o additional writing assignments
o helpful teacher feedback on my work
o activities with other Embedded Honors students
o more higher-level thinking, less memorization
8. My child benefited from the Embedded Honors option for the course(s) for which he/she took, compared to courses without Embedded Honors.
o Strongly disagree
o Disagree
o Neither agree nor disagree
o Agree
o Strongly agree

8 thoughts on “Madison School District Online Survey: “Embedded Honors” High School Courses”

  1. While the survey asks:
    “8. My child benefited from the Embedded Honors option for the course(s) for which he/she took, compared to courses without Embedded Honors.”
    NO WHERE DOES IT ASK FOR THE COMPARISON OF EMBEDDED HONORS VS (REAL) HONORS CLASSES.
    Can the schools show parents/students that a different curriculum is actually used in embedded honors?

  2. Clearly the survey was designed to get the desired outcome, rather than learn — in a more full-bodied and honest way — about students’ actual experience.
    It reminds me of those highly structured MMSD community input sessions, where the “conversation” is so tightly controlled by the District that there is no opportunity for a free exchange.
    Cleaning up these important details would go a lot farther in repairing a damaged relationship with the community than any “branding” campaign.

  3. The efficacy of Embedded Honors course are completely dependent upon the instructor….100%, period.

  4. I have not heard of any situations where embedded honors works as well as regular honors for those who need advanced coursework and high level discussion. Even given the most outstanding, experienced, committed, energetic teacher, it is not possible to teach two courses at the same time and do a good job of both.

  5. I have been asked to post this, so here it is: a letter to Barbie Klawikoski, the interim TAG Coordinator, re: this survey.
    Dear Barbie:
    I received an e-mail message referring me to the long-awaited embedded honors survey. I thank you for getting it out, but I found a number of problems that may limit the value of the data collected.
    Generally, when one writes a survey, the first step is to decide what one wants to find out. Next is to write survey questions in a clear and unbiased manner designed to get that information. The questions should then be analyzed by outside experts to assess their clarity and look for subtle bias. After revision, a small test sample is run and the data analyzed to see if the information gathered answers the original questions. After further revision, if needed, the survey is then sent to the target audience.
    Either we had different ideas of what the survey was intended to discover, or I think there are serious problems with the survey. I think looking at the survey before it went out would have been a good use of the TAG Advisory Committee. My understanding was that we wanted to compare the value of embedded honors with separate honors curricula and sections, to see if embedded honors, as currently practiced in MMSD, is a viable alternative to separate honors courses. That question will not be answered in this survey. If asking about one’s experience with a program, it is often valuable to ask, “would you recommend this course to a friend?” (Or, “if you had it to do over again, would you take this course?”) Nowhere is a question of that nature asked.
    The survey sent to parents asks about honors only in the aggregate. There is no distinction between different courses. There is no distinction between embedded and regular honors. (The survey refers only to embedded honors.) The survey to students, on the other hand, does ask about specific courses (there was a separate survey for each course, by course title), but assumes that all honors courses were embedded honors. Therefore, the data immediately become useless, since many of the courses my child was asked about were not, in fact, embedded honors, but separate courses with a distinct curriculum. Further, he was not asked at all about a course he took which was an embedded honors course.
    My son found out about the survey only because I told him to look on Infinite Campus. He has not been notified by MMSD or his school. If no students have been notified, the sample will be skewed, since it will include only students whose parents know to tell them about it, which is why this letter is going to MUAE as well as to you, in hopes that more parents will know to tell their kids to look for the survey.
    Again, I thank you for the time and the effort to take this survey. I only wish it had been thought through a little more carefully to make the data gathered more useful. Interpretation of the results will be limited by the errors present. Unless there is a way to separate responses re: embedded honors courses from those related to regular honors courses, any interpretation will be wrong.
    Sincerely,
    Steve Rankin
    parent member, TAG Advisory Committee

  6. David,
    Yes, of course, there is teacher-dependent variability, as there is with most anything. But as others have suggested, that is not the point. The more important variable — in terms of student learning and student learning experience — is the instructional format.

  7. By “instructional format” I meant embedded honors versus, say, honors classes. Embedded honors generally involve more work that is mostly (often entirely) independent work. In honors classes, teachers actually teach at a higher, deeper level and at a faster pace. And students get to interact with one another and learn together. Teachers are not responsible for deciding which of these formats will be offered. Administrators and BOE are. There are significant differences between the two formats that have nothing to do with teacher competence/effectiveness.

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