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Back to Jan. Ed Reporter

Education Reporter
NUMBER 156 THE NEWSPAPER OF EDUCATION RIGHTS JANUARY 1999

K-12 'SALT' Survey Riles Parents, Teachers,
and School Administrators in Rhode Island

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PROVIDENCE, RI - Students from grades 4-12 in Rhode Island's public schools are again taking the SALT survey (School Accountability for Learning and Teaching), a lengthy questionnaire that probes them for personal information on nearly every aspect of their lives. The questionnaires contain about 200 questions and statements; some are true/false, a few are multiple choice, but most require students to choose from among several one-word responses.

The SALT survey was introduced last spring by the Rhode Island Department of Education and immediately created controversy. Teachers and parents objected to the personal, intrusive and potentially damaging nature of many of the questions (See Sample Questions in sidebar).

As reported in the Providence Journal, one teacher wrote to the Education Department to complain that the survey was "wordy, repetitious, needlessly time-consuming and often ambiguously written in 'educationalese.' " She voiced her concern about "the department's underlying political agenda of school reform," which she said reflects "the political and education beliefs of politicians, education professors, education department officials, parents, but few teachers."

At least one school district refused to administer the survey last year until the state threatened to withhold funding. According to the Providence Journal, the Narragansett School District Committee insisted on parental permission for students to take the survey, and spent $1,500 to mail it to parents. The result was that only 10% of the students were allowed to participate.


 
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