Chula Vista Elementary School District is the largest K-6 district in the State of California, with 45 schools that serve a significant Spanish speaking community. Efficiently and effectively engaging a community of this size and diversity is a challenge.
When the district dove into its Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), a statemandated funding plan that requires meaningful input from stakeholders, Superintendent Dr. Francisco Escobedo and his team used ThoughtExchange to crowdsource ideas and comments from the school community.
“Looking back at our first LCAP year in 2014, we recognized that we needed more efficient and effective tools. We saw ThoughtExchange as an opportunity to really expand and deepen the conversation with our stakeholders,” Dr. Escobedo says.
ThoughtExchange’s ability to include English and Spanish speakers in the same conversation was a “non-negotiable necessity” for Chula Vista’s administration.
“ThoughtExchange ensures that the experience for Spanish speakers and English speakers is equal and parents feel like their voices carry the same weight regardless of the language they speak. This creates a more inclusive, more accessible participant experience,” he shares.
Making participation, and administration, easier
ThoughtExchange also enabled Chula Vista to be far more efficient and effective in crowdsourcing thoughts and ideas from the entire learning community, which resulted in a much stronger funding plan.
Participation increased significantly thanks to ThoughtExchange’s simple online process that allows parents, staff, and community members to participate on their own schedules.
“People could provide input in a format that was convenient to them, without interrupting their family time or their workday,” says Dr. Escobedo. “It gave us an avenue that was structured, purposeful and ultimately not only measurable but actionable. ThoughtExchange allows people to see comments from others in ways that a conversation or a standard survey doesn’t allow for.”
"ThoughtExchange ensures that the experience for Spanish speakers and English speakers is equal and parents feel like their voices carry the same weight regardless of the language they speak. This creates a more inclusive, more accessible participant experience.”Dr. Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent, Chula Vista Elementary School District
Cross-platform accessibility increases reach
For Chula Vista, ThoughtExchange’s ability to deliver a “mobile-rich experience” is a key feature, given that a large percentage of the district’s community uses mobile phones to connect.
“Regardless of what device you use, the ThoughtExchange platform doesn’t get in the way of what’s most important, which is hearing our stakeholders’ thoughts,” explains Dr. Escobedo Because of the platform’s accessibility, Chula Vista heard from more people and a broader cross-section of their community than ever before.
Multi-language process meets a high standard for equality
The district’s past engagement efforts set a high bar for language equity, with on-site interpreters at all of its meetings, and audio headsets for those in need of simultaneous interpretation, similar to a United Nations meeting.
Dr. Escobedo and his team felt it was paramount to uphold this same standard as they moved the LCAP conversation online.
ThoughtExchange provides the Chula Vista school community with a fully integrated English-Spanish language experience, an attribute that Dr. Escobedo says is critical for building trust with families of English learners.
Looking to the future
ThoughtExchange quickly surfaced valuable insights and ideas that the district used to inform LCAP refinements, which were adopted by its board of education.
“We’re moving to a level of nimbleness where we can capture information, make adjustments, and measure how we’re doing,” says Dr. Escobedo. Chula Vista plans to expand its use of ThoughtExchange throughout the school year.
“There’s a sweet spot we are looking for that doesn’t exhaust the end-user, but allows us to see how people are feeling at the beginning, middle, and end of the school year,” Escobedo explains, “As we continue to use ThoughtExchange in this way, we want to be able to match input with action.”
Effectively engage a large multilingual school community on important issues.
An online engagement platform that enabled the district to efficiently and effectively crowdsource ideas and deepen the conversation with both English and Spanish-speaking families.
Increased trust between administration and stakeholders, leading to more inclusive and better decisions.
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