Innovations in School Surveys

August 12, 2021 by Lily Rexing

Innovations in School Surveys

The school years taking place during the 2020 pandemic were fraught with challenges, ever-changing approaches, and often urgent staff, student, and family needs. Choosing methods and delivery of instruction, maintaining district operations, and ensuring the safety of students, teachers, and parents were top priorities for every district.

In order to make it all work, schools needed an easy, reliable way to communicate with various stakeholders. Two 2021 Tyler Excellence Award winners went above and beyond in creative communication through innovative surveys.

As we head into a new school year, it’s important to recognize and carry forward our transferrable learnings from our time during the pandemic, applying them to improve operations and enhance service. The winning stories below can serve as a springboard for ideas to better serve districts and families in times of crisis and beyond.

Mission Consolidated Independent School District, Mission, Texas

Mission CISD transitioned to remote instruction at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Once everyone was home, staff initially tried communicating with parents via email, phone, and text. Even with multiple methods of communication, staff quickly realized they were not reaching everyone effectively. This was certainly a problem, as communicating evolving plans and receiving timely feedback was imperative.

Within days of transitioning to remote learning, Mission CISD opened a web-based, bidirectional communication solution between district staff and parents. The district was able to query parents for their preferences, including preferred instructional delivery, access to internet-connected devices, and additional feedback. The district also collected data about survey submissions and completion rates to better inform future communications and approaches.

Two-way communication with families kept everyone in sync during significant disruption. Including family feedback into decision-making also eased stress and increased a sense of community and connectivity. Learn more about Mission CISD’s creative approach to parent communication.

Belleville Township High School District #201, Belleville, Illinois

In response to the pandemic, Belleville began split-attendance days. Some students attended classes in person, some attended remotely, and most attended a mix of in-person and remote classes. Since attendance is closely tied to state funding, the district needed an official process for remote students to mark themselves present each day.

To solve for this, staff used the advanced attendance and survey capabilities in the district’s student information technology system to create a simple check-in form for remote students. “The attendance office can view the non-submitted forms from the day prior and use the survey module’s mass email feature to message those students and parents who failed to check-in for attendance,” noted Curtis McKay, director of technology. “By filtering the unsubmitted list by ID number, we are even able to target groups of students, so the letter is coming from their assistant principal.” The system’s advanced capabilities helped automatically organize staggered in-person, partially remote, and fully remote attendance to capture accurate rolls.

The district also employed its system’s survey function to turn daily staff and student wellness responses into data-driven decisions during the pandemic. Tracking through surveys helped to reduce manual response efforts while safeguarding state funding and keeping everyone safe. The district can continue to use this infrastructure in remote learning and other use cases moving forward. Read more about how Belleville Township innovated a timely, automated way to track student and staff wellness and attendance.

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