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National Study Reveals K-12 School Districts Lack Confidence in Ability to Serve Local Communities

More than 500 school leaders contributed to the first-ever State of K-12 Customer Experience Survey

July 22, 2019 – With students heading back to school in the coming weeks, it’s an anxious time for many school leaders. A rise in safety and security-related concerns, including bullying, transportation and school shootings, has forced administrators in nearly every state to rethink outdated protocols and procedures, while a new wave of inbound communication via social media and other channels has crippled the abilities of superintendents, transportation directors, school resource officers and others to effectively respond to every concern.

The 2019 State of K-12 Customer Experience Report (www.k12cxreport.org) represents the first-ever national study to explore the impact of the customer experience and community engagement on school performance. Published by K12 Insight, with support from the National School Public Relations Association, the report includes feedback from more than 500 superintendents, communications leaders, school board members, and internal staff. To help school leaders prepare for back-to-school, K12 Insight has released an exclusive First Look at the findings. School leaders who download the preview will also receive the full report when it is released in September.

“K-12 school districts have spent years investigating the impact of classroom innovations on teaching and learning. But even academically-strong schools struggle to connect with their communities,” said veteran education researcher and project lead Dr. Shelby McIntosh. “The research suggests that failure to connect, more often than not, can be attributed to a lack of trust.”

The findings:

  • By weighted score, 100% of respondents named building trust with stakeholders their top strategic priority, followed by engaging external stakeholders (87%) and engaging internal stakeholders (84%).
  • While 90% of school leaders said that building trust with stakeholders was “very important,” just 52% said they were “very confident” in their ability to accomplish this.
  • Annual school climate surveys are the primary means of measuring the customer experience (71%) compared with 55% for technology and just 5% for secret shopping, for example.
  • Despite a strategic commitment to building trust and providing high-quality customer experiences, 19% of school leaders said no one in their district is responsible for monitoring customer service quality. In addition, 15% said no one is responsible for improving customer service in their district.
  • Across the board, school leaders representing smaller districts (less than 75,000 students) ranked the quality of service provided by their districts higher than school leaders representing larger districts (more than 75,000 students).
  • While 79% of school leaders said their district provides excellent or good service to students and parents, the number drops slightly to 73% who feel their district provides that same level of service to employees. That figure drops to 47% when school leaders are asked how they perceive the level of service provided to community members without children enrolled in schools.

The National Educator’s School Safety Network says that threats against U.S. schools increased 62% between the 2017 school year the 2018 school year, to 3,375 instances. In Georgia, administrators at the Richmond County School System said an influx of inbound transportation-related questions — as many as 3,000 in one week during back-to-school two years ago — crippled call centers. As a new school year approaches, administrators nationwide worry that a rise in these and other distractions will further detract from their ability to deliver a high-quality education.

“It’s telling that school leaders have a less favorable opinion of their district’s ability to meet the needs of internal stakeholders,” said McIntosh. “This comes at a time when teacher attrition sits at 8%* and we’ve seen walkouts from teachers and staff. From these results, there is clearly an urgent need to improve both school community and school employee engagement. A focus on exceptional customer experience limits outside distractions, so schools can focus on meaningful change.”

To receive an early preview document or to sign up for the full report once available, which includes additional findings, practical recommendations and a framework for implementing a culture of exceptional customer service in K-12 schools, visit the State of K-12 Customer Experience Report website at www.k12cxreport.org.

About the State of K-12 Customer Experience Report

The 2019 State of K-12 Customer Experience Report represents one of the first national studies created to help school leaders assess, inform and improve the quality of customer experience in the nation’s K-12 public schools.

About K12 Insight

K12 Insight’s school customer experience platform includes powerful, cloud-based technology, research and expert training to help school leaders build trust and solve critical operational and communication challenges in their schools. Reaching more than four million parents, students, teachers and staff, K12 Insight’s school customer experience solutions have been used to improve safety communication with parents and students, streamline transportation inquires during the busy back-to-school rush, engage teachers and staff in sensitive HR conversations, and build community trust with parents and community members. School district leaders in each of these critical operational areas can be made available for interviews.

*Source: Learning Policy Institute

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By K12 Insight
Originally published July 22, 2019 Last updated October 20, 2022