6 Best Practices for Surveying Your School Community: Administrator Tips

Oct 27, 2023
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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. It also gives your team the valuable opportunity to investigate and address any concerns head-on. Likewise, surveying your school community makes it possible to communicate proactively about how you, as an administrator, plan to tackle areas of need.

But that’s not all – satisfaction surveys can aid your school's marketing efforts. By helping match your messages to student and family interests, collecting testimonials from families, and gauging your program’s retention rate, these surveys help you plan your recruitment efforts and overall strategies for the coming school year. So, how can you effectively survey your school community and utilize the insights you gain as a result? Let’s take a closer look.

Six Tips for Surveying Your School Community

Here are a few best practices to bear in mind when surveying your school community to ensure you maximize your results:

1. Choose a flexible online survey tool

There are numerous online survey tools to choose from, but not all are made equal. The ideal tool should give you the freedom to make plenty of adjustments to adapt your survey to your community. Some features to look for are:

  • The ability to export data
  • Customization that allows you to add branding
  • Survey logic
  • The variety of question types

Some free options 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, choose questions for your community survey carefully. Keep them brief, consider leaving space for comments, and focus on the topics and objectives that matter to you most. 

Below are some example questions that you can download and use to build your own school community 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.

3. Carefully consider when to present a school community survey

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 a greater impact. If guardians are dissatisfied with something, or their child is having a difficult time, you have time to work toward improving the experience for students and families, helping to develop a deeper connection with them.

4. Thank families for their feedback, no matter what

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 after surveying your school community

Sharing results will allow you to show families that you heard them and 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 community survey results over time, it’s important to remember that you should try to stay as consistent as possible to accurately measure progress. Changing anything—from your delivery approach to your introduction to your survey questions—will 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 impact results. If you must make a change or adjustment to your school community 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.

Are you planning on surveying your school community soon? Check out our Virtual School Marketing Toolkit for some example questions you can download and use as a starting point when surveying your school community. You can also get tips and strategies to increase your survey response rates. Now, what are you waiting for? Get started on your school community survey today!

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

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