10 Ways Surveys For Students Help Your School
Surveying students, or parents of younger students, can improve many aspects of a school. Sending consistent surveys for students is how you can take the pulse of your student population. We have assembled a list of 10 ways you will improve your student’s lives and school performance by doing regular surveys.
Before we begin, note that surveys are only good if you get enough people to reply to them, and you ask the right questions. It needs to be easy for schools to send micro-surveys for students that take less than 30 seconds to complete, and are sent via text message, which performs the best by far for the responses. With automation, ease of use, and quick access to results, you can achieve the things in this article for your school in very little time and expense.
The key is not to send out surveys once, or once a year. It is to send very small, easy sets of questions regularly so that you can identify trends in your school, with particular students, and even in grades or by classroom.
#1 Identify Changing Needs of Students
Students can have many changing needs in their lives. A student who has previously had a stable living situation and suddenly experiences instability or is uprooted, might not even know how your school can provide services and help to the student and their family. One way to identify this is when you are doing frequent student surveys and you see a change in the pattern of a student answer. These changes can prompt a discussion with a specialist in your school to see if any changes have occurred and to get the student the support they need. While this could be minor, it could also head off a bigger set of problems which could result in a move, withdrawal from school, and a decrease in the school’s enrollment and funding.
Beyond serious issues at home, a student might also simply hit a roadblock with learning and basic intervention and tutoring could help them move forward and reduce the risk of falling further and further behind.
#2 Improve School Safety With Student Surveys
Surveys for students can be crafted to carefully ask questions about how students feel when they are at school. Red flags in your data can prompt discrete discussions with a student to see if there are issues with bullying, fighting, or threats from other students. By being able to discretely answer questions or text to the school account, someone can report issues they see. Also, when students are being surveyed about these issues on a regular basis, it can reduce the likelihood of it occurring because it seems like it is easier to get “turned in” by someone.
#3 How Surveys Identify Academic Problems
Not all students learn at the same pace. When a student starts to feel frustrated and fall behind, it is often not obvious to the teacher on day one. Instead, over time they will form more and more gaps in important knowledge, and students will fall behind in learning and see a reduction of grades over time. While a survey cannot easily help someone already behind, it can definitely help school officials identify people who are starting to struggle and get them the help they need before an entire grading session is over.
#4 Student Surveys Improve Enrollment and Retention
Without strong school enrollment numbers and a good student retention rate, your school will find it hard to be successful. When results go down, enrollment is down and retention gets harder, funds can be reduced to a level that makes the success of the school nearly impossible. For this reason, it is paramount to use student surveys, or parent surveys for younger kids, to know how people feel about the school. Not just once a year, but regularly, and address issues that are being reported back to you. The same survey can be used to solicit referrals from happy students and parents for other students who may want to transfer, open enroll, or do a specialized program in your school.
#5 Identify Home Issues with Student Surveys
We all want students to have the best possible environment at home. Sometimes issues cause added stress and hurt the performance of students at school, and it has nothing to do with the school. Effective student surveys can help you identify students who might be having difficulty at home. This can lead to a discussion with a specialist in your school and, where appropriate, intervention or help can result in improvements that help the student perform better. While a student survey does not solve all of your problems, it does give students an easy way to raise their hand and ask for help.
#6 Improve Attendance with Surveys for Students
Attendance is one of the primary factors in good academic performance and graduation. For this reason, the more ways you engage with your students in school, and outside of school via their mobile devices, the more likely they will attend more classes. If your school uses the right service, you can actually tag students who have a chronic attendance issue and send them more frequent student surveys asking them if they plan to attend class this week, if they have any issues they need help with, etc. Showing them you can and want them there can boost your attendance numbers and help you identify issues that might be hurting attendance with particular students.
#6 Improve Attendance with Surveys for Students
Outstanda Pulse, our student surveying system, can help you tag students of higher risk of poor attendance and target survey messages and traditional text messages to the students or parents to remind them of the importance of school, how attendance can impact academic performance, and graduation dates, as well as just keeping school more top of mind, maybe pushing a student on the fence about coming in, to the side of attending. A little nudge can be the difference between “not feeling like it” and “sure, let’s go.”
#7 Improve School Morale & Culture with Surveys for Students
Every school is going to have a certain number of students unhappy about some things. Chances are, they will not want to “complain” to teachers because teachers are tasked with grading them (judging them) and students might not want to rock the boat. However, with surveys for students, you can frequently check-in and see what they are feeling, or how they would rate aspects of the school. Sometimes this could be an easily addressed issue, but if your team does not know about it, it cannot be improved. So school morale, and the school culture, can be deeply undermined by 1,000 papercuts. Surveying students can help identify ways to improve the culture and happiness of your student body and impact teachers as well because the culture of a school is how all the people in the school feel. And the better they feel, the better the school can perform.
#8 Useful Data for School Boards
School boards tend to focus on key metrics, like attendance, enrollment, and academic success. They most likely also review financial operations carefully. But because school board members are not in the schools each day, they do not have a data-driven way to know how the school is doing on a more personal level. By surveying students frequently with micro-surveys (taking in less than 30 seconds) a school can collect trend data and present school boards with challenges, and the steps a school is taking to address the challenges. Or if everything is great, present that, with data to back it up. This data-driven school monitoring will give boards peace of mind because it is much more concrete like other metrics they are used to seeing.
#9 School Marketing with Surveys for Students
Not all schools need to do marketing, but some schools are in competitive environments where parents have more school choice, and this means educators and administrators are being thrust into marketing and sales. Doing school surveys regularly can help with this process in several ways. First, it can give you data that you can use in your marketing materials, email blasts, and even as a discussion point when giving a family a tour of your school. “93% of our students report they are very happy with the school; we survey them regularly.”
Beyond having concrete data to share with prospective enrollees, the surveys can also ask questions that can lead to referrals. Having one family refer another family into a school can be a huge economic boost for the school, depending on how many children are in the school. So ask the question, “Do you know someone who might be interested in attending?” and follow up with them to get the information.
#10 Improve Wellness with Student Surveys
In 2020, many schools found themselves scrambling to serve their students remotely, get feedback, communicate in ways that meet student needs, and assess the health and wellness needs of the students. This included getting lunches to students, helping them with health resources and information, making sure they had proper PPE, and addressing concerns over what the school would do, which seemed to change week to week based on health information coming out. While most years are not that chaotic, having an easy way to get data and improve wellness for students is always a challenge and an important part of serving your student population. When you have surveys for students that go out regularly, you can have a better idea of a student’s health and wellness needs, and also see when a student might have changing needs before the situation becomes dire
Schools that want to improve need to have actionable data that is updated on a regular basis and allow for trend analysis. Outstanda Pulse is a systems that helps you publish surveys for students, and gives you access to valuable data that can boost school performance in many areas.