As educators, it’s important to promote and foster that partnership. Parents who feel they’re opinions and concerns are of value and their contributions to the school are welcomed and appreciated will understandably be more invested in their child’s school and education.
A school parent survey is an effective way to gauge parent and guardian engagement. There are many survey options, and it can be difficult to choose the right one. Some things to consider when deciding how to best implement a school parent survey:
· Ask the right questions. It’s important to evaluate what you’re asking. Questions should be varied enough to represent all aspects of parent engagement in school and detailed enough to provide an understanding of where and why parents are or are not engaged.
· Get honest feedback. If your feedback is not honest it is not useful. Ensuring anonymity is a good way to get honest feedback as well as encourage participation from those parents and guardians who are typically less vocal, giving you a more accurate and complete picture of parent engagement. Using a third-party survey is one way to increase a respondent’s comfort level.
· Be sure your data is usable. Data is not useful if it is not easily accessed and interpreted. Your data reporting system should make it easy for you to identify areas of strength and weakness.
· Be responsive. Educators strive to make data driven decisions. Parents will be confident they’ve been heard when educators respond. Use what you’ve learned from the data gathered to celebrate your strengths and set goals for the future.
An independent educational research firm has developed a Parent Engagement Survey with these things in mind. Founded in 2002, School Perceptions, LLC has conducted surveys in over 10,00 schools. Utilizing their proprietary software, they gather data in five key areas:
1. Culture of Educational Excellence
2. Effective Teaching
3. Safe and Healthy School Climate
5. Sense of Community
To foster trust in the survey process, the anonymous survey uses research-based questions that feed these five indexes of parent engagement, eliminating internal survey bias and encouraging constructive feedback.
Survey data is collected and stored by School Perceptions to ensure that individual results are kept confidential. A district is then given access to the results in user-friendly online portal where data can be viewed and disaggregated.
Data stored from over 10,000 schools can then be used to make comparisons to schools of similar size, location and socio-economic status. Reports can be generated to help school administrators to easily identify areas of strength and weakness.
Parent engagement in schools is vital to student achievement. Cultivating that engagement can be a challenging task, but when school leaders are equipped with the right information, they have the tools they need to forge a productive partnership with parents.
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