WI State Performance Plan (SPP), Indicator #8: Parent Involvement

Frequently Asked Questions about the Parent Survey Data Collection


You may search this page by General Information, Generating Parent Letters, Who Should Receive a Letter, After Parents Receive Letter, Follow Up, and Data Reports

General Information

Question 1: Is our LEA required to conduct a parent survey to collect the data for Indicator 8?

LEAs are required to conduct the survey in the same year in which they complete the procedural compliance self-assessment. Please see the list found at http://sped.dpi.wi.gov/sites/default/files/imce/sped/xls/selfassmt-cycle-2012-2016.xls to determine when your LEA is required to conduct the parent survey to collect data for Indicator 8.

Question 2: When is the Parent Survey window?

The parent survey window runs from Feb 1 to June 30. LEAs receive a downloadable spreadsheet and directions prior to the survey window opening.

Generating the Letters

Question 3: Where can I find the downloadable spreadsheet sent by DPI containing student information used to merge the letters to families letting them know that they are participating in the parent survey?

The Indicator 8 Downloadable Spreadsheet is available through the Special Education Web Portal using the login ID and password that was assigned to the Director of Special Education. The spreadsheet can be found in the top grid of the main menu once you have logged into the special education web portal. If you have the password but are unable to locate the Indicator 8 file, please contact DPI.

Question 4: What should be in the letter to parent for Username and Password?

When the school completes the mail merge, the Username and Password are filled into each letter from the Excel file. The Username is a unique code for each parent. The Password is the LEA number. When the parent opens up the DPI web page, she/he is told to click on a link to the survey, and to put the Username and Password into the text boxes that appear in the next screen.

Question 5: Must we fill in all of the telephone contact numbers on the letter to parents?

Your district may select what supports you wish to provide to parents who are asked to complete the survey. You may use all of them if you wish. WSPEI and WI FACETS personnel are familiar with the survey and are prepared to assist districts. If you wish to use a local family resource center, district staff, or cultural liaison, you will need to familiarize them with the survey (scripts for preschool or 6-21 surveys) and how to provide assistance. If you will not use a resource, you may remove it from the letter before generating the mail merge.

Question 6: The mail merge is not working.

Differences in versions of Word and other factors can cause difficulties, including moving the merge fields on the letter. Print the form letter before you begin as a reference for where the merge fields should be. Download both the form letter and the completed Excel data file into the same folder. After you “select recipients” (Excel file), check the merge fields to see if they moved. If they did, clicking “undo” should move them back without affecting the step in the merge process. Be sure that only the rows on the Excel file that contain student names are selected (checked) before you merge. You may need to “insert merge fields” in place of those on the form letter in order to connect the letter with the current data file.

Who Should Receive the Letter?

Question 7: What if a student on the list left the district . . .
--And we have the forwarding address?
--And we don't have the forwarding address?
--And the student went to a correctional facility?

-If the student moved during this school year and you have the parent’s current address, send the letter. If the student went to another facility during this school year and you have the parent’s current address, send the letter.
-If the student graduated or moved out of the district before this school year, do not send the letter to that parent. Keep a record of parents who were deleted from the mailing so that you will not follow up with those parents when given unused codes/usernames.
-If you have no forwarding address or if the child died, delete that parent from the mailing. Enter the parent’s Username/Password on the online survey and decline to complete the survey.

Question 8: What if the child was dismissed from special education?

If the child was dismissed during this school year, send the letter to the parent. If the child was dismissed prior to this school year, the child should not be on the enrollment list from which the sample was generated. If he is, do not send the letter but keep a record so that you will not follow up later.

Question 9: To which parent should we send the letter if there are two parents who are divorced, both with educational rights?

Send a letter to each parent. There is now a Username1 and a Username2 field in the spreadsheet that is downloaded from the Special Education Web Portal. This form letter can be used to send letters to the first parent (using Username1) and this form letter can be used to send letters to the second parent. The downloadable spreadsheet only has space for one parent name, so save a second copy of the spreadsheet for the purposes of sending letters to a second parent.

Question 10: If our list of students includes siblings, should the parent receive a letter for each of them?

Yes. Each letter will include a different student name and a different username/password. You may enclose the multiple letters in one envelope, if you wish.

Question 11: If a student was already 18 at the beginning of the school year, should we send the letter to the student?

No. The survey is written for parents. Districts can open the online survey and enter the assigned parent username/password. In the Consent screen, check the "No" box. The survey will then close, but it will have recorded the username/password as used.

Question 12: Should the letter be sent to a foster parent, who is typically most involved with the child's education on a day-to-day basis?

The letter should be sent to the person who meets the legal definition of "parent" in Chapter 115.76 (12)(a). A foster parent may be that person, as specified in Ch. 115.76 (12)(a)10.

After Parents Receive the Letter

Question 13: What should we do if a parent calls and says s/he does not want to complete the survey?

If a parent states that she does not want to complete the survey, you can go into the online survey and enter the parent's Username and Password. There is a Welcome screen and then a Consent screen, in which you can check the "No" box next to consent. The survey will then close but it will have recorded the Username as used.

Question 14: A parent called because his Username and Password is not working. We tried it and get the message "Log in failed."

Ask the parent if she/he is willing to complete the survey over the phone with you or to mail in a paper survey that you will send. If the parents want to take the survey over the phone, try the Username and Password yourself. If none of these options work, call or email DPI and report the problem.

Question 15: Where are the paper surveys for the school to send to the parent upon request?

Copies of the paper surveys for each age and language are on the DPI Indicator 8 Parent Survey Guidance page. This link is sent prior to the survey window opening to districts in the Procedural Compliance Self Assessment cycle. Please contact DPI if you require a link to this web page. Download by clicking the link(s) for the language and age you need. Be sure to fill in the Username and Password on the paper survey before mailing. If no Username and Password is received, your district will not be credited with that survey response.

Question 16: What address should be on the return envelope that is sent with a paper survey?

North Central Regional Resource Center
5 Pattee Hall
150 Pillsbury Dr. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Please do not violate the confidentiality of the survey by having the surveys returned to your school.

Question 17: Where are the scripts for reading the survey to the parent in plain language?

The scripts are on the DPI Indicator 8 Parent Survey Guidance page. This link is sent prior to the survey window opening via email to districts scheduled to complete the survey. If your LEA is completing the Parent Survey and needs access to this link, please contact DPI.

Question 18: What are different ways that parents can take the survey?

Parents may complete a survey using one of the methods below:

  1. Computer - If a computer is available to parents, please instruct them to go to the Special Education Parent Survey page (sped.dpi.wi.gov/sped_parentsurvey) and complete the online survey by June 30. They will enter the Username and Password given to them in the letter you have mailed.
  2. Phone – Parents may call the school district, a WSPEI CESA Family Engagement Coordinator or WI FACETS and a staff member will read the questions to the parent and type their answers into a computer. To identify your WSPEI CESA Family Engagement Coordinator and find their contact information go to http://wspei.org/contact/. You can contact a WI FACETS staff member at (877) 374-0511.
  3. Paper survey – Parents may call their School District before June 15 and ask for a paper copy to be mailed to them.

Schools may also invite parents to complete the survey in a computer lab at a school, ask parents to complete the survey after IEP meetings, or invite parents to take the survey after other school events (parent nights, report card pickup, etc).

Following Up

Question 19: May we use WI FACETS staff or contracted help to call parents (disclosing parent names and phone numbers to non-employees)?

Yes, if you draw up a contract that is signed by a district representative and the helper who is not an employee of the district or CESA. The contract should include confidentiality language. WSPEI staff are CESA employees that are able to assist with the parent survey.

Question 20: What are some options for improving response rates?

Once the LEA receives an email listing of the usernames/codes that have not been used by parents, LEAs may send out reminder letters to parents, call parents, or request the help of a WSPEI Family Engagement Coordinator to contact parents. Someone at the LEA should be assigned to monitor follow up of the survey to ensure high response rates (minimum of 20% and at least 6 respondents). LEAs should plan on multiple methods for follow up and include at least two attempts.

Question 21: If we send a letter to both parents who live at separate addresses, and only one completes the survey, must we include the other parent in our follow-up?

No. You have given the opportunity to both parents.

Question 22: How does an LEA know if their survey response rate met the required minimum? If the LEA reaches the minimum but would like to keep trying to increase its response rate, would it have access to the information needed to continue?

DPI will notify all districts by email once every two weeks with updated response rates. Any LEA that did not have at least 20% of its sample returned, or six surveys, whichever is greater, must follow up with the parents who have Usernames and Passwords that were not returned. The parent Usernames and Passwords that were returned will be available to LEAs. LEAs are encouraged to continue their follow-up even if they have reached the minimum response rate requirement. LEAs will receive updates on password codes that have been used throughout the survey window. This strategy was very successful in increasing the parent survey return rate in past years. LEAs that have no surveys returned in the first report or fewer than 20% in the second report will be contacted individually by DPI.

Data Reports

Question 23: When will the data from our cohort of LEAs be reported to the federal Office of Special Education Programs?

DPI submits statewide data on Indicator 8 in the Annual Performance Report by February 1 of the year following the collection of the data. Data collected in one year will be submitted the following year.

Question 24: What data from our LEA will be reported back to the LEA?

When the data is analyzed for each LEA, DPI provides two detailed reports to the LEA. Each report tells the number of parents that responded to the survey for that age group. If there are fewer than 6 responses for either age group, the LEA does not get a detailed report for that age group because parents are promised confidentiality of responses. Reports tell:

  • Percent of parents that agreed with each statement, 1 through 25, on the age 6-21 survey in your school district.
  • Percent of parents that agreed with each statement, 1 through 22, on the age 3-5 survey for your school district.

Only 18 items are analyzed for the federal report, so there will be some items on LEA results that cannot be compared to statewide results.

Question 25: How and when will LEAs receive their individual reports?

LEAs will be notified by e-mail that their reports are available through the Special Education Web Portal after the Annual Performance Report has been submitted (see #23). These reports are only available on the special education web portal, by using the Special Education Director login ID and password that is assigned to each LEA. Public reporting on the Special Education District Profile of the DPI website will consist of one percentage calculated by finding the lowest ranked item in terms of parent agreement of the questions that we analyze for the federal report. LEAs can compare their percentage to the statewide percent of parents that agreed that schools facilitated parent involvement.

Question 26: How is the single percentage calculated for each LPP District Profile?

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, ALL questions on both preschool and school age surveys are used to calculate individual LEA and statewide Indicator 8 scores. The new LEA and statewide Indicator 8 calculation is made by taking the average agreement for ALL items on completed preschool and school age surveys submitted during the survey window.

Question 27: Who should we contact at DPI for help?

For questions about this information, contact Daniel Parker (608) 266-5194