Article by Ryan Moore, RMS Research Coordinator

Understanding Community Needs: A Case Study of a School District’s Perception Survey

Our client wanted to know: How can we provide the best level of education for our community?

A School District in Central New York partnered with Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) to conduct a community perception research study across its 8 educational facilities.

The District wanted to know how the community views the District, its schools, and its educational programs. That feedback would be used to help guide the District’s strategic planning efforts and allow them to create a positive, enriching, and supportive environment for students, families, and the community at large.


RMS partnered with the School District to develop a survey to be conducted online with parents, community members, former students, and current and former staff.

The questionnaire included a mix of multiple-choice and open-ended questions about the District’s direction, the execution of District policies and plans, and the relationship between the community and its School District.


Using the information received, RMS was able to determine that:

  • Almost two-thirds of respondents think the School District performs better than other area school districts.
  • Respondents believed some of the strengths of the District are providing quality education, communication, building a sense of community, and athletics. Many also mentioned the District’s special education programs.
  • More than three quarters of respondents rated their awareness of the District’s current strategic plan as 3 or less out of 5.
  • Many respondents felt that improvements could be made with the District’s overall communication, transportation, and supporting/paying/hiring staff.
  • Respondents felt that in the coming years the District should focus on hiring/paying/supporting teachers, increasing diversity/equity, and focusing on education.


The study findings identified areas that could be improved and as well as opportunities to enrich the District’s culture and enhance the educational experience for students and the community.

RMS made recommendations for the District to emphasize inclusion and diversity, increase communication and transparency, and ensure that the community feels engaged.

Through regular and continued community feedback, the School District can not only monitor the attitudes of the community, but it can also measure its progress in meeting community needs and expectations by being aware of changing community dynamics.

Community feedback is crucial to the work of a school district and can demonstrate a willingness to be held accountable for their actions and decisions that affect the community at large. This can help a district achieve its goals of being transparent and responsive to the needs of the community it serves.

A community perception study like the one RMS conducted for the School District gives community members the opportunity to voice their concerns and highlight positive elements.

By seeking feedback from the community, a school district also engages with community members in the educational process. This can lead to increased participation in school events and activities, and a greater sense of ownership and investment in the success of the district and its students.

Learn more about how Community Perception Studies can help your school district or higher education institution.

Relational RMS Blogs:

Recruiting the Right Participants for Your Focus Groups: Best Practices
How to Design Your Next Feasibility Study
How to Overcome Common Barriers to Employee Satisfaction Surveys

About the Author – Ryan Moore

As RMS Research Coordinator, Ryan assists the analytic team with managing projects, including designing surveys, survey programming, interviewing, analyzing data, and summary reporting. He works within the research department to interpret primary and secondary data, helping to identify key findings and trends. Ryan also assists in project recruitment.

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About RMS

Research & Marketing Strategies, Inc. (RMS) is a full-service market research firm in Central New York. Formed in 2002, RMS helps organizations that are looking to know more about their customers and/or potential customers. They conduct surveys, focus groups, mystery shopping, studies and analysis. Each project is customized and gets personal attention by the best in the business. RMS has a reputation for getting results and offers an independent means to conduct telephone, on-line and mail surveying, In-depth interviews, intercept interviews, and participant recruitment as well as focus group hosting through QualiSight, its onsite call center and focus group facility. Taking advantage of the region’s reputation for being a great market study barometer, RMS recruits and moderates for focus groups, community forums and town meetings.