At K12 Insight we’re passionate about building systemic engagement of all district stakeholders by using surveys to drive meaningful change in public schools. Lately, I’ve been troubled by some of the news articles I read about surveys gone wrong.
There’s no doubt in my mind that most surveys are conducted by well-intentioned administrators, who are passionate about their students and community. However, since surveys rely on the public’s trust, it’s vital that the entire process be strategically planned and that the questions are vetted by a professional.
Case in point: Within the last few days, I’ve seen a few public school surveys that leave me shaking my head.
One such issue that always creates a reaction in the community is school uniforms. Uniforms may seem like a worthwhile idea to consider, especially since they mitigate many of the challenges associated with kids expressing themselves through their clothing. In this case, however, survey administrators have to ask whether the survey content was written clearly enough.
Often surveys can be perceived as a referendum on an issue. If survey questions are poorly constructed, participants may assume the decision to implement a major change has already been made. When that happens, it’s possible that a benign issue can split a community down the middle and turn a conversation into a shouting match.
Sometimes a forgotten yet critical stakeholder group — the students themselves — can provide valuable insight into what they’re thinking and feeling about their own education. The last thing a survey should do is leave students feeling like their opinions are a joke.
K12 Insight understands that ongoing dialogue is crucial, so we focus on the communication that happens before and after each survey is launched, in order to lock in the value of the survey itself. When stakeholder groups see the district administrator delivering all survey results back to the community, administrators will likely be perceived in a much more positive light.
After reading about several surveys gone wrong, I recommend implementing a comprehensive survey policy. If you have the need to survey, K12 Insight offers the resources, tools and support for you to begin surveying properly.