Schools Miss Opportunity to Engage Parents

Schools miss out big time by failing to engage parents through regular survey research – and providing feedback from surveys when parents are asked for their views.

Schools miss out big time by failing to engage parents through regular survey research – and providing feedback from surveys when parents are asked for their views.

Parents are among the biggest boosters of schools, but a Gallup survey suggests school officials are missing the boat by failing to engage with more parents. CFM’s research confirms that conclusion.

Gallup found only 32 percent of parents said they have participated in surveys commissioned by their local schools. Less than half of parents who participated in surveys received any feedback on survey results.

The missed opportunity Gallup has identified goes beyond the absence of a rich interchange of information between parents and school officials. Gallup findings indicate that “silent parents – those who do not take advantage of opportunities to participate in the research – are twice as likely to be actively disengaged with their child’s school.”

Disengaged parents, the research shows, are more open to transferring their children to other schools and voice concerns about the quality of their local schools.

According to Gallup, “Research suggests that great schools put in the effort to measure parent engagement on an ongoing basis and make intelligent, data-backed decisions based on the insights from parent surveys. Further, measuring engagement creates opportunities for schools leads and parents to review the study findings and collaborate on a path to school improvement.”

Conducting surveys and designing community engagement programs for school districts are a significant part of CFM Research Partner Tom Eiland’s practice.

“We encourage schools to engage their communities, especially the parents of children attending school. School districts that know what their constituencies think and understand how to communicate to parents and those without children in school is critical to their ability to move forward with any decision-making including levies for operations, bonds for new or remodeled facilities, boundary changes and changes to curriculum.”

School districts in Oregon and Washington that have retained Eiland to conduct community assessments or surveys about specific levies and bond measures have a solid track record of success. During the past three years, school districts have relied on CFM research to get voter approval for more than $1 billion in bond and levy financing

The benefit of engagement goes beyond winning an election. “School leaders that listen, share what they hear and collaborate with constituents on improvements are the leaders of school districts with positive reputations in their communities,” Eiland said. “Engagement isn’t just a tool to win a vote. It becomes part of a district’s culture.”