Why Should I Conduct Surveys?

Every day, school leaders make important decisions. These decisions range from different ends of the spectrum and may, perhaps, be in regard to tuition changes, the addition of a Mandarin program, or the construction of a new swimming pool. School decisions are often based on unexamined assumptions, which can result in costly school changes. This takes place when the facts do not support the decisions made. Although data is not everything, when combined with institutional knowledge, systematically collected feedback enables a school to operate in a strategic manner. As a result, the school can deliver its mission most effectively.

Schools conduct surveys for many reasons. Just a few are listed below.

  • Measure parent, student, faculty, alumni/ae, or other constituent satisfaction
  • Gather feedback from families who left your school, or those who applied but didn’t enroll.
  • Assess operations, financial position, and governance against best practice to predict sustainability
  • Determine whether a capital campaign is feasible at your school
  • Make a specific decision about an planned initiative
  • Accreditation requirements

What We Do

We offer customized surveys that are tailored to address your specific needs, as well as pre-designed surveys that are based on our research and 40 years of experience in independent schools The goal is to uncover what you want and need to know. We begin with your school’s objectives and then help you determine the services that best meet your goals within your budget. Our team launches the surveys electronically, compiles and formats the data, and offers a variety of reporting and analysis options. Finally, we can offer advice on how best to communicate and use the data.

Survey Options


  • Student Experience Survey
    The SEP II is appropriate for students in grades 5 and above. This instrument measures students’ attitudes about the aspects of your school that ISM research has shown to be correlated with high student performance, satisfaction, and enthusiasm.
  • Student Satisfaction Survey
    Learn what your students think about specific programs in your school, including delivery of mission, curriculum, schedule, pedagogical techniques, athletics, co-curricular programs, social environment, and more.
  • Student Alumni Survey
    What’s your value-added? Get feedback from graduates about how your schools opportunities, and experiences after graduation paid off in the end.


  • Faculty Culture Survey
    A positive, growth-focused faculty culture is the strongest predictor of student performance, satisfaction, and enthusiasm. This research-based instrument (FCP II) examines the qualities that matter most in the lives of students.
  • Faculty Experience Survey (FES)
    Just as students require predictability and support from their teachers, faculty need predictability and support from their administrators. This survey measures the teachers’ attitudes and opinions regarding the level of predictability and support they experience from their administrators. The scores from this survey place your faculty’s experience on the School Culture Matrix, ranging from “toxic” to “optimal.”
  • Employee Satisfaction Survey
    While the FCP II examines the culture of your school based on what we know to be the primary predictors of student satisfaction, performance, and enthusiasm, this survey is designed to gauge faculty and/or staff job satisfaction, as well as to gain important insights about your school’s particular programs, student life, and school culture.


  • Parent Satisfaction Survey
    In terms of sustained enrollment, your school is only as good as parents think you are, and worth only what they feel they’re getting for their investment. This survey unveils what parents really think you’re doing well, where you stand to improve, and gauges whether you are effectively communicating your school’s value.
  • Applicant Survey
    Learn how families found out about your school and how they experienced the application and admission process. Examine why your new families chose your school and/or why other admitted mission-appropriate students declined to enroll. Discover perceptions about your school and gain insight in the areas of marketing, admission, and your competition.
  • Attrition Survey
    Parents frequently tell schools during exit interviews that they “simply can’t afford it,” ISM research shows that cost is very rarely the primary cause for attrition. An anonymous third-party survey gives you a more accurate picture of why students leave so that you can address any potential issues and take back control of your enrollment.
  • Parent of Alumni Survey
    What’s your value-added? Get feedback from parents of your graduates about how your school’s programs contributed to their decision to enroll their child at your school, and whether they feel their investment paid off in the end.


  • Stability Marker™ Assessment Instruments
    Position-specific surveys are directed to your School Head, the Board of Trustees and its President, the Business Manager, the Admission Director, and the Development Director. In addition, all faculty members will complete the Faculty Culture Profile II and the Faculty Experience Survey, and students complete the Student Experience Profile (see description above). The results of the completed surveys are tabulated and ranked according to ISM’s Stability MarkersTM, our research-based indicators of a school’s continued success and viability.
  • Parent Satisfaction Survey
    In terms of sustained enrollment, your school is only as good as parents think you are, and worth only what they feel they’re getting for their investment. This survey unveils what parents really think you’re doing well, where you stand to improve, and gauges whether you are effectively communicating your school’s value.
  • Board Survey
    As a Board President or Chair of the Committee on Trustees, this instrument can be used both as an independent measure of your Board's strategic orientation and as a critical scoring component in the ISM Stability Markers TM. That total comprises your Board's score on the governance portion of the ISM Stability MarkersTM assessment.

Benefit to You

ISM has conducted more than 3,100 on-site consultations and hundreds of surveys with schools. Our solid background in private-independent schools and all facets of their management enables us to identify assets and pinpoint liabilities, and share trends with you. Each of our surveys provides confidentially gathered data and a detailed analysis in a written report that guides you in institutional decision-making.

ISM Survey Reviews

Norwood School has had a long and satisfying relationship with ISM for twenty plus years and we have always received excellent professional service and advice from them regarding our life and disability insurance and also our Employee Handbook review and re-design. So naturally, when it came time for the School to embark on an employee satisfaction survey, ISM was the first consultant that came to mind. The service and advice that we received from Barbara Beachley and Marie Kelly was excellent. Barbara guided us with patience and professionalism throughout the year-long process. Now that we have the results, they will also assist us through the delicate process of disseminating the summary results to the school community as a whole, including guiding us through any follow-up we need to make as an institution to utilize the results for the good of the school. Their knowledge of the survey process was invaluable to us and we will definitely continue to use the services of ISM for any future surveys. We would recommend ISM highly to any independent school looking to perform a first class employee survey.

Mary Claire Steinbraker,
Director of Human Resources
Norwood School, MD
Free webinar: Create a data-driven culture.

Learn More

To learn more about how our Survey Services can help your school, e-mail Dennis Derricott, ISM's Survey Manager, or call 302-656-4944.

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