It’s Time to Survey Parents at your School, Part 1

One of the greatest influences on your school’s retention rate is parent satisfaction. When your parent satisfaction is high, your retention rate will correspond to this level.  And, the converse of this is true—a lower level of parent satisfaction will correspond to a lower rate of retention. 

Retention is a measurement of your parent’s satisfaction at your school.

Because of this, I believe it is critical to conduct an annual parent satisfaction survey. As a school administrator, you need to know what parents think about their experience. This will help you better understand the current satisfaction level and any issues that you may need to address. 

Let me give you an overview of how this survey should work in your school.

This parent satisfaction survey should include a combination of qualitative and quantitative questions. The following are some examples of each question type.  

Quantitative Questions to Ask Parents

Quantitative questions allow for a specific choice. This is usually measured numerically through a set of response options on a Likert scale.  The following are two examples of quantitative questions:

I would recommend XYZ school to friends in my community:

  • Strongly Disagree
  • Disagree
  • Neutral
  • Agree
  • Strongly Agree

Please indicate your overall level of satisfaction with your child(ren)’s educational experience at XYZ School:

  • Very Dissatisfied
  • Dissatisfied
  • Somewhat Dissatisfied
  • Neutral
  • Somewhat Satisfied
  • Satisfied
  • Very Satisfied

The first question uses a 5-point scale and the second uses a 7-point scale. Based on the responses, a mean score for each question is computed.

I also use another question that asks the parent to rate their level of satisfaction with every area of the school (academics, faculty, technology, etc.). This is helpful to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the school, which can be ranked from highest to lowest.

Quantitative questions should be a important component of your parent satisfaction survey.

Qualitative Questions to Ask Parents

Qualitative questions provide an open-ended format that allows the parent to freely express their thoughts and perspectives about the particular area you are addressing. These questions provide the “thick description” behind some of the quantitative questions. Instead of a mean, numerical score, you will receive sentences and paragraphs of thoughts from your parents. 

The following are some examples of qualitative questions to ask:

  • What do you like best about XYZ School?
  • What do you like least about XYZ School?
  • As of today, do you plan for your child to graduate from XYZ School? Please provide the reason(s) for your response:
  • Based on your experience, how could the leadership improve XYZ School?

It is important to remember that open-ended questions provide the opportunity for the parent to respond in detail. Thus, the analysis of these responses becomes very important  in order to understand patterns and themes rather than isolated comments from renegade parents. Unless the concern is truly a pattern, a random comment should be dismissed. For example, if 20 parents talk about the poor food choices available during lunch and only one parent complains about car line, then the issue you need to address is the lunch program.

In part 2 of this blog post (coming soon), I will discuss the timing of your survey, the response to expect, the delivery method to consider, and the results to communicate.

What are some of the questions you ask on your parent satisfaction survey?