Nationwide, school districts conduct tens of thousands of surveys every year. Unfortunately, those surveys often do more harm than good, creating distractions and complicating consensus building and decision-making.
Since the general public is mostly uninvolved and unaware of the challenges facing their school district leadership, they don’t understand the context in which surveys are being deployed. In fact, many survey participants assume that a survey is meant as a referendum on issues, and that survey administrators will simply make final decisions in accordance with how the majority “voted” in the survey.Setting proper expectations
Surveys are not stand-alone barometers of public opinion. Rather, they are just one of many data sources — such as case studies, research papers authored by experts, and state and federal mandates — that are used to make decisions.
Presenting surveys to the public without first setting proper expectations does an injustice to the topic. For example, a survey asking the community’s opinion on adopting a school uniform policy should share relevant facts about studies conducted in other districts, unique challenges faced by the community, and previous discussions with teachers and parents, as opposed to simply asking for a yes/no vote.
Building trust requires setting proper expectations from the start. Unfortunately, most school districts lack the experience and expertise to design these kinds of information-sharing questionnaires.Authentic listening
K12 Insight promotes an authentic listening approach. Our questionnaires are designed to lay out the facts, ask stakeholders for their thoughts on specific issues and, most importantly, probe why they feel the way they do. Asking why is necessary to help both sides better understand the challenges with which administrators and board members are grappling.
By taking an approach that goes beyond traditional surveys, we facilitate authentic two-way dialogue between school administrators and their various stakeholder groups.