For Teachers

How to Craft a School Questionnaire for Parents

By The Room 241 Team March 6, 2013

Parent questionnaires and school surveys are one of the best ways for educational institutions to obtain information from their communities. This information can then be used to make improvements or to make decisions about school-related concerns. School administrators should send out at least one questionnaire about their institution every year, but should also make sure their survey is an effective tool to gain honest, helpful feedback from parents.

Crafting a school questionnaire for parents: 7 ways to make it work

Teachers or school administrators who are considering sending out a survey should consider the following when crafting questionnaires for parents.

1. Explain the survey’s purpose

Most parents want to know the goal of a school survey before devoting time and thought to answering the questions. Stating a clear purpose for the survey — for instance, “Help us improve Back to School Night!” — will encourage participation.

2. Don’t take names

Unfortunately, some parents with valid concerns about a school may be afraid to speak out for fear that their children could suffer consequences or retribution from an offended party. That is why it is better to allow parents to take part in a survey anonymously.

3. Collect valuable feedback

A school can glean valuable information from a properly-crafted parent questionnaire. Asking parents what they did or didn’t find helpful at a back-to-school event, what they’d like to get out of parent-teacher conferences, or their experiences with other school activities can help you address direct feedback from parents.

4. Word questions clearly and carefully

The questions on a parent school survey should be written in clear and concise language. Questions that are vague or compound could result in a school receiving inaccurate data. For example, parents who are asked for a yes-or-no answer to a compound question such as, “Do you like our math curriculum and the way it is being taught on our interactive whiteboards?” might answer yes because they like the math curriculum even though they really hate the interactive whiteboards.

5. Make it brief

Parents who receive a survey on multiple pages or are forced to click through an endless stream of questions may decide not to participate or may even give up in the middle of the questionnaire. The creator of the survey should review it several times to remove redundant questions or ones that stray off the intended path of the questionnaire.

6. Select a good time for the survey

Certain times of the year are just not good for conducting a parent questionnaire school survey. For instance, a school will probably not get a good response to a survey if it is conducted during Christmas break. Parents who are already feeling overburdened with holiday parties and purchasing gifts are not going to be in a mood to fill out a survey. In addition, a number of families travel during this time so, again, filling out a survey is probably going to be low priority for them.

7. Encourage participation

A school could craft an excellent survey that asks all the right questions, but if no one completes the questionnaire, its efforts have been wasted. Before a school even makes a survey available to parents, it should send out an announcement to encourage parents to fill it out and to stress how important their input is for improving the school for their children.

Once the surveys have been distributed or made available online, the school needs to send out periodic reminders to the parents either by email, a phone call, a letter sent home with the child or by all these means. A reminder to complete the survey should also be placed on the school’s website and possibly in the front office as well.

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