When is the best time of year to conduct a survey?
Parent, Faculty, Student, School Culture-October through April, although holidays and times of stress should be avoided
Attrition and Applicant-Late spring (preferred), summer, or early fall
Alumni/ae-Any time of year, as long as recent graduates are given time to adjust to their new circumstances
The key is to survey in the same season each year the survey is repeated.
How often should we conduct surveys?
School Culture Surveys: Twice per year for at least two years. This allows you to see how different results may vary from one season to another. After that, once a year always in the same season (fall, winter, or spring)
Stability Marker Assessment Surveys: Before strategic planning processes or more frequently as needed
Constituent Satisfaction Surveys
Parent, Student, and Faculty Satisfaction: Once every other year; annually in times of extreme transition or other specialized circumstances
Attrition and Applicant: Annually or once every other year.
Alumni/ae: Graduating Student Surveys may be conducted annually.
Young alumni/ae surveys are often conducted every 3-5 years, and full-alumni/ae surveys every 5-7 years
Why a third party? Can we just do it ourselves?
Research shows that survey participants tend to give direct and honest feedback more so when they are assured that their identities will be kept confidential, as opposed to when this is not the case. Additionally, survey design is not just asking questions—it is asking the right questions in the most appropriate way possible. Working with professionals will help your school obtain the most reliable and useful data.
How does ISM conduct surveys?
ISM creates and distributes surveys electronically through email lists provided by the schools.
Why not by mail or phone?
In addition to being slow and very costly, the response rate to snail mail is usually too low for it to provide reliable data. Due to the prevalence of caller ID and blocked calls, telephone surveys have become far less cost-effective. Electronic surveys are fast, inexpensive, and generally produce satisfactory response rates.
How long does it take to get the survey results?
Once the survey design is approved by the school and distributed electronically, it usually takes about two weeks to reach a desirable response rate. Depending on the number and length of the responses, the analysis and written report can take from eight to twelve weeks to complete thereafter.
What is an effective response rate?
We aim for a minimum of 60% for most surveys. The exceptions are alumni/ae, attrition, and applicant surveys, which tend to be lower because these families have less investment in sharing their opinions. In order to maximize response rates, we send two reminders. The first reminder is sent one week after the survey’s launch, and the second, a day before the survey is scheduled to close. With each reminder, the school is provided an update from ISM on its response rate. Occasionally, a deadline will be extended until a satisfactory data set has been achieved.
How much does it cost?
We offer a range of options to suit your school's budget. The cost depends on the type of survey, the number of survey participants, and the type of report and analysis requested.
Gold Members: Receive 10% off of all surveys conducted through ISM, plus an additional 5% when two or more surveys are conducted.
Non-Gold Members: Receive a 5% discount when two or more surveys are conducted.
To learn more about how our Survey Services can help your school, e-mail Dennis Derricott, ISM's Survey Research Manager, or call