Monday, September 19, 2016

Perception Does Matter!

We got a call to work in a school where enrollment continued to fall.  We learned that the community perception was that this was the “ghetto” school.  In reality, the scores and other data revealed that the students were actually performing as well as, and many times even better, than the other schools in the district.  Focus group data as well as survey data showed that people had the perception that this was a trashy school and that violence was an issue.  Using one of our techniques of assessment we like to call, “Community Walkabouts”, we saw that the garbage dumpsters were placed in the front of the school.  Of course this made the school look “trashy”.  Additionally, the School Resource Officer parked the squad car in the front parking lot nearest to the main traffic area.  We soon realized that the perception was that the police are always going to that school and that MUST mean violence. 
Sometimes, change can be as simple as “cleaning up” negative appearances.  Perception does matter, so we developed a campaign to clear up the misperceptions and to publicize the health that actually existed at that school.

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