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[Administrator Tips] 6 Best Practices for Surveying Your School Community

[Administrator Tips] 6 Best Practices for Surveying Your School Community

Satisfaction surveys can be useful tools to build connections and capture some great insights from your students, families, teachers, and staff. Taking the time to get feedback from members of your school community allows them to feel heard and provides your team with the valuable opportunity to investigate and address any issues or concerns head-on and communicate proactively about how you plan to tackle them.

In addition, satisfaction surveys can aid in your school marketing efforts by helping match your messages to student and family interests, collect testimonials from families to use in your recruitment efforts in the future, and gauge your program’s retention rate so that you can plan for the coming school year.

Here are a few best practices to bear in mind when conducting a satisfaction survey for your school community:

1. Choose a flexible online survey tool

There are numerous online survey tools to choose from. Some features to look for are the ability to export data, the customization to add branding, survey logic, and a variety of question types. Some free options to consider that include unlimited responses and other useful features for surveying families are: SurveyLegend, Google Forms, and SurveyPlanet.

2. Ask short and relevant survey questions

To ensure a greater response rate from busy families, be sure to choose questions for your survey carefully. Keep them brief, consider leaving space for comments, and focus on the topics and objectives that matter to you most. 

Here are some example questions that you can download and use to build your own surveys. Use these questions as a starting point for your satisfaction survey. Mix and match or customize these questions based on your objectives and program.

Edmentum – Parent/Family School Satisfaction Survey Template

Edmentum – Teacher/Faculty School Satisfaction Survey Template

3. Give a lot of thought to when you will present the survey to families

There are a few approaches as to when to survey families. The most common time to send a satisfaction survey is at the end of the academic year when classes have wound down and families have time to take a retrospective view. However, sending out multiple, shorter surveys during the course of the school year can help improve retention by connecting you directly with families based on their feedback.

In addition, sending out social-emotional learning (SEL) or school climate focused surveys earlier in the year allows responses to have greater impact. If guardians are dissatisfied with something, or their child is having a difficult time, you have time to work toward making the experience better for students and families, helping to develop a deeper connection with them.

4. Thank families for their feedback, regardless of the nature of it

Send a quick, follow-up email blast thanking families for their time and participation. Consider personal follow-ups with respondents who have urgent issues that need attention or clarification.

5. Share applicable results and the impact that responses will have going forward

Sharing results will give you the opportunity to show families that you heard them and to indicate to them how you plan on using their feedback. This can also make them more likely to participate in the future. When sharing, consider including both the positives and the actionable items that you need improvement on. Include specific data using visual aids like tables and graphs, and highlight plans for addressing areas of improvement.

6. Be sure you are comparing apples to apples

If you plan on comparing survey results over time, it’s important to keep in mind that to accurately measure progress, you should try to stay as consistent as possible. Changing anythingfrom your delivery approach, to your introduction, to your survey questionswill make your results hard to compare against each other. Even something as simple as changing the platform, survey window, or the number of response options per question can have an impact on results. If you must make a change or adjustment to your survey, be sure to note it both on the survey and where you collect and store your data, so you can be as accurate as possible in your comparison.

Planning on surveying your school community soon? Check out our Virtual School Marketing Toolkit for example questions that you can download and use as a starting point to build your own surveys for Families and Staff plus get tips and strategies to increase your survey response rates.

This post was originally published April 2021 and has been updated.