||When embarking on a school improvement plan, it can be tempting for administrators to target those areas that offer quick fixes or are inexpensive. However, one of the best starting points for planned change is a survey. A well-constructed survey is an excellent way to find out what people want and the areas in which they are willing to help. |
|Schools should first interview a sample of families. Note that all groups should be represented, not just those with students at the school. This is important because everyone must share in the plan for improvement, and each audience will have different needs, motivations, and biases. |
- Single parishioners with no children
- Young couples without school-age children
- Older parishioners with grown children
- Parents with children who attend Catholic school
- Parents with children who attend public school
- Students who attend Catholic school
- Students who attend public school
- School staff and administrators
Based on their feedback, schools can then develop and distribute a parish-wide or diocesan-wide survey to capture data and opinions from many perspectives. Questionnaires should be a combination of multiple choice, true and false, or rank order so that actual data can be collected and studied. Avoid fill-in-the-blank responses.
Surveys should be anonymous but have questions to identify subgroups, as well as geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic information. Ensure that the surveys have specific questions about the school: tuition, technology, staff, etc.
When the surveys are completed and tabulated, schools will find that they have legitimate changes to consider as well as areas where better communication is needed. For those areas of improvement that lie outside of the expertise of the administrative staff, such as construction, marketing, and technology, schools should consider working with consultants. They can help create affordable, scalable plans that will meet the school’s needs and budget.