Readers catch CMS error: Busing response reversed in report

The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools survey on student assignment included several questions about busing.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools survey on student assignment included several questions about busing.

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools report on student assignment survey results contains an error on a busing question, staff said Friday: 82 percent of CMS parents disagreed that they’d “be OK with a longer bus ride” to take their children to diverse schools.

The report released to the public and presented to the school board Thursday said 82 percent agreed with that statement. It was so out of sync with responses to other questions that it raised questions with many who saw it.

On Friday, two readers who had scrutinized the 232-page CMS report online emailed the Observer to say that the breakdowns for six school board voting districts contradicted the tally for the CMS overall. In the district breakdowns, agreement with the busing for diversity statement ranged from 9 percent in south suburban District 6 to 51 percent in northeastern District 3, noted Sharon Starks and Craig Wheeler.

“CMS should correct and re-publish given that this question is near the heart of the debate,” Wheeler wrote.

The Observer asked CMS to review that item based on those observations. Lynne LaCaria, who oversaw the survey and reporting on results, said she discovered that “the labels need to be flipped.”

The correct result: When CMS parents were asked to react to the statement “I would be OK with a longer bus ride if it meant my child(ren) attended a diverse school,” 61 percent strongly disagreed, 21 percent disagreed, 11 percent agreed and 8 percent strongly agreed (percentages are rounded).

The online survey, conducted in January and February, drew 27,453 responses from parents, students, employees and community members. Superintendent Ann Clark described it as “one data point” for the board to use in an ongoing review of student assignment policy.

An Observer article on Thursday’s meeting also included incorrect information about timing of the presentation. Detailed reports on the survey will be presented at future board meetings, though specifics have not been set.

Ann Doss Helms: 704-358-5033, @anndosshelms

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