5 Survey Best Practices for Small Schools

Mar 24, 2023

I recently gave a presentation to the Seattle Archdiocese for Catholic Schools about surveys. Surveys are a great way to collect valuable information about your school community. It gives parents a way to help us help them. If you haven't been using surveys, or if you haven't been mindful about the way you use surveys they maybe haven't worked out that well for you, but if you take into consideration these five tips, I guarantee that you will start to get better results. And that's a win for you and a win for your retention efforts!

  1. Develop an Annual Survey Plan: It's important to have a plan for when to send surveys and the goal behind each survey. Too many random surveys or repetitive questions on surveys will tune people out. So start with a plan.
  2. Calendar All Communications & Meetings: This is beyond step one, parents are busy so it's important to include your surveys in the big picture of communications. Be mindful of when you’ll send surveys and how you will follow up with reminders. Schedule a time to meet as an admin to discuss survey results, and THEN when you’re communicating back about survey data and initiatives.  
  3. One Person Designated as the Survey Manager: Too many cooks in the kitchen makes for a messy survey process. Although a group can contribute to a survey, have only one person driving survey management. This person should be setting the timelines and reminding people about each piece of the survey process from development to reporting back. 
  4. Report Back to Your Community: There’s nothing more disappointing than filling out a survey and not feeling heard. Parents will be less likely to give feedback in any form if they don’t feel like you’ve done anything with the feedback they’ve given. Report back to your community—not the whole survey or even details—just three identified things you’re working on, and always sandwich this in all the positive things you heard in the survey. Surveys should never be gloom and doom. 
  5. Track & Benchmark Year to Year: Don’t just give survey after survey. Review the results and compare them to last year’s results and the past three years. This will help you identify trends and red flags.

I hope you find this helpful. I'm always interested in feedback, so feel free to email me [email protected] with any questions, ideas, or suggestions.


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