The following post was co-written with Hilary Ranucci, Business Development Coordinator at RMS.
Colleges and Universities are no stranger to market research, but we’ve noticed an uptick in K-12 school districts seeking market research services. To make the most informed decisions about your school district, you should have a strong understanding of your community, both past and present. Below are some common market research projects that school districts will benefit from the most.
Community Awareness Studies
The best way to gauge the perception of your district is to reach out to the very community that it is serving. Surveys can be conducted via mail, telephone, or online to capture a large volume of quantitative data, while focus groups will add a qualitative component to the research. Information gained from community awareness studies can include indicators of quality within a district (strengths), unique attributes, the school district image, and overall value ratings in curriculum content areas.
Speaking to past students will provide the school district with a wealth of satisfaction information. Graduate surveys are typically conducted online or via phone, and questions are aimed at learning how satisfied graduates were with their education and how well-prepared they were for their post-graduation plans. Data gathered from the surveys will allow the district to determine which programs, content, or classes may need to be improved, and identify those are providing the most value. A knowledgeable market research vendor will help your school district determine how far back in the graduate database you will need to go when surveying to answer your research questions. Our clients have also found that graduate surveys are useful for creating and/or keeping an alumni base engaged for future initiatives.
Parent Surveys or Interviews
Parents are becoming increasingly interested and involved in the education their child(ren) receive. As a key community stakeholder, this demographic can provide valuable insight. Surveys can be conducted online or via phone, and interviews may take place in person or via phone. Survey questions should identify satisfaction with education policy, curriculum/programs, communication from the school district, and overall satisfaction with the services provided by the school district. Trending topics that we are also seeing become more prevalent in parent surveys include learning about perceived school safety, scheduling, and budget. Your market research consultant should work with you to determine the appropriate method to reach your parent audience, and which questions will produce the most valuable insight.
Employee Satisfaction Surveys
Employee satisfaction surveys are not limited to the business world. Like any other business operation, school districts should look internally for areas of opportunity. Staff immersed in the daily operation of school district will provide important insight into the perception and satisfaction with the school district as a workplace. We’ve noticed there is a direct link between strong employee engagement and organizational success. Online employee surveys are a powerful means to measure employee satisfaction and engagement. Perhaps most importantly, employee satisfaction surveys give the employees an anonymous outlet to note the aspects of their job and workplace that are most enjoyable, and identify areas of opportunity that would make them more engaged and loyal. Survey questions should focus on identifying areas where the school district is excelling and where they should improve, as well as finding ways to motivate employees. An important component to the employee satisfaction surveying process is the use of the data by school district. Once employees have voiced their opinion, it is important to let them know how the school district plans to use the feedback to improve their working experience.
RMS has worked with many school districts and conducted the studies outlined above. If you are interested in learning more about our research capabilities, please contact Sandy Baker, our Senior Director of Business Development and Corporate Strategy at SandyB@RMSresults.com or by calling 1-866-567-5422. Visit our website at www.RMSresults.com.