Conducting a Parent Satisfaction Survey in Your School
Retention is a concern for every school leader. As most schools go through the re-enrollment season, the most important indicator of the parent’s continued enrollment is parent satisfaction. This requires that you actually measure parent satisfaction in your school community.
A parent satisfaction survey is a critical assessment, retention and marketing tool that provides convenient, confidential feedback to school leadership and stakeholders on an annual basis. Your parents are your primary customers and it is important to measure their satisfaction of their educational experiences at your school. This survey will capture satisfaction ratings, plans to continue enrollment through graduation, and areas needed for improvement.
Importance of Surveying Your Parents
The best timeframe to conduct a parent satisfaction survey is between February and the end of the school year. This will give your parents the opportunity to share their perspectives from this current school year.
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.
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.
Every year I conduct parent surveys for schools of all types, shapes and sizes. In fact, I have several that are currently live for my school clients. While there are many questions to ask, it is important to ask the following:
Three Things to Ask on a Parent Survey
- Satisfaction Questions – It is important to measure the overall satisfaction score of your parent’s experience in the main areas of your school. These satisfaction questions help you to determine your school’s areas of strength as well as the areas that need improvement.
- Plans to Continue and Graduate – One of the key measurements in an analysis of your school is your parent’s plans to continue their child’s enrollment next year and through graduation. You will need to understand if there are any issues that might affect the continued enrollment of your families.
- Net Promoter Score – I always ask the Net Promoter Score question so that I can measure the strength of the school’s word of mouth. This score can range between +100 to -100. Typically, scores over 50 are considered to be strong scores and indicate a healthy school as well as a strong parent base for word of mouth.
These three questions help measure the health of your school. While these questions are critical, it is also important to provide a mix of quantitative and qualitative questions.
Quantitative questions allow for a specific choice. This is usually measured numerically through a set of response options on a Likert scale (for example, Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree).
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 or numerical score, you will receive sentences and paragraphs of thoughts from your parents. You can then look for patterns and themes in the comments from your parents.
As you and your school’s leadership team plan to move into the summer vacation, the results from a parent survey will help you to better assess the year and plan for the future. This should be a critical part of your evaluation and planning process.
You can certainly design your own survey or you can hire a company to do this for you.
I have developed a parent satisfaction survey as part of my School Survey Solutions Program that includes some marketing questions that you could use. You can find more details about my process and pricing on my website. Let me know if you are interested in my survey. Last year I conducted over 60 parent satisfaction surveys as well as other surveys that I offer.