April 30, 2023
Understanding constituents’ needs, opinions, and concerns is critical for a school to effectively serve its students, parents, Board, alumni, and other community members. Surveys are one of the best and most effective ways to gather this information.
Surveys can help schools:
- gain valuable feedback about the needs and expectations of its constituents;
- measure satisfaction and identify areas for improvement;
- increase engagement by showing constituents their opinions are valued; and
- make informed, data-based choices.
Basing decisions on assumptions can be costly. But combining the data gained from surveys with institutional knowledge can help a school operate strategically and effectively deliver its mission.
Here are some things to consider when it comes to surveying your constituents.
Topics covered in surveys can be as broad as curriculum and facilities or as specific as parent-teacher conferences and summer programming. While surveys can help identify a school’s challenges, they can also help celebrate strengths and accomplishments.
Independent schools conduct surveys for a variety of reasons, including learning more about:
- School Culture: Measure community members’ satisfaction and discover their perception of your school.
- Admission: Gather feedback from families who left the school or those who were offered contracts but didn’t enroll. This takes the guess work out of why families ultimately decided a school wasn’t a good fit for their child.
- Business Operations: Predict sustainability by learning more about what constituents view as a school’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Fundraising: Determine the feasibility of a fundraising campaign. Will your school have the necessary buy-in and resources to support a proposed fundraising initiative?
Surveys can also be used to judge the success of and determine future steps for academic programs, athletics, diversity initiatives, school breaks and vacations, tuition and financial aid, before and after school programs, summer programming, alumni events—there is no limit to the topics that can be included.
Tune in to live webinars every week during the school year to get specific, research-backed insight you can immediately apply at your school.
Effective survey questions help a school gain accurate information on which it can base future actions. Types of questions can include:
- Yes or no—“Do you think our school should offer summer camp?” Or, “Should the school day end earlier?”
- Multiple choice—“Which of the following events should the school hold in 2023?” Or, “What cocurricular activities should our school offer?”
- Open-ended—“What would you change about our school’s schedule?” Or, “What changes would you like to see in the cafeteria?”
- Likert scale—respondents choose from answers on a scale. For example: strongly agree/agree/neutral/disagree/strongly disagree on statements such as, “The school cares about my child’s mental health.” Or, “I am satisfied with the school’s safety and security measures.”
Note of caution: Be careful not to set false expectations. By including a topic in a survey, the assumption is that it may be open to change, so don’t include questions that may raise discussion you are not willing to engage in. For example, do not ask for opinions about your school’s dress code if there is no possibility of change.
Surveying constituents is an essential tool for schools that want to improve the quality of education and meet community needs. Soliciting feedback and insight from constituents make them feel valued and heard. Survey responses help your school make informed choices about how to improve the educational experience while meeting the needs of its students and their families.