Parent survey for K–12 schools

SurveyMonkey and the Harvard Graduate School of Education collaborated to build a survey template that helps schools improve parental involvement.

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K-12 parent survey

An abridged version of the Harvard Graduate School of Education Pre K-12 Parent Survey, developed by Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to help Pre-K-12 schools assess aspects of the family-school relationship.

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For over a decade, tens of thousands of schools have used SurveyMonkey to listen to their parent communities

But many of those surveys have missed key aspects of the relationship between parents, schools and students. To make sure parental involvement has an impact on education, we’ve teamed up with Dr. Hunter Gehlbach of Harvard Graduate School of Education to help K-12 schools ask the right questions. The result is an expert survey template that makes it easier to get reliable results and improve outcomes.

Create surveys, send them out, and get powerful tools for analyzing survey responses. From parental involvement to fundraising to course evaluations, we make it easy. Get started for free.

Why parents matter

Parent involvement in schools helps students earn higher grades, boost test scores, improve social skills, and graduate, according to the 2002 paper titled A New Wave of Evidence, The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement, authored by Harvard Graduate School of Education Lecturer, Dr. Karen Mapp.

Findings from Dr. Mapp’s work and follow-up studies from the Harvard Family Research Project have been incorporated into a growing number of educational reform initiatives and funding opportunities, including the US Department of Education Race to the Top Fund.

Now, more than ever, principals, superintendents, and school boards need to understand their schools’ effectiveness in building parental capacity. But how should educators begin this daunting process?

Ask the right questions

Our partner, Dr. Gehlbach, and his team used a rigorous process to create survey questions to assess key areas of family/school relationships. Drawing from academic literature, parent interviews, focus groups, expert panels, and survey design best practices, the team developed questions that addressed the following key areas:

What makes this survey different?

The typical survey design process relies on extensive research and expert analysis to come up with questions. But the survey designer must take care not to neglect respondents’ interpretations of questions.

Dr. Gehlbach used interviews, focus groups, and pre-testing techniques with potential respondents to focus on how parents of K-12 children understood what they were being asked. This helped the survey designers understand how ambiguity in language might impact respondents’ interpretations across key areas. For instance, do parents see “academic achievement” to mean solely test scores and grades, or do they feel that it covers reading proficiency and critical thinking skills? Is “improved school performance” viewed through the lens of traditional outcomes across subjects, or does it include social and psychological aspects of well-being? Nuances such as these were critical in creating questions that could effectively help schools assess parental involvement.

Learn more about the question creation process by reading Dr. Gehlbach’s article here.

Who should use this survey?

Principals, district staff, school boards, or parent/teacher organizations from any K-12 school — public, private, independent, charter, urban, or rural — should use this survey to understand how they’re doing with parents.

It can also be helpful to get context from your survey results by comparing them to results from other schools or organizations. Finding a benchmark to compare your parent engagement data can help you make actionable goals and better understand your strengths when it comes to school-parent interaction.

Learn more about our parent engagement benchmark data

How should my school use this survey?

In the survey template embedded below, there are several groups of questions such as Parent Engagement, School Climate, etc. When creating your survey, choose groups of questions that make sense for your school. But we urge you to include every question in the groups that make sense. This will minimize errors in your response data and help you gather the best results.

In addition to the template’s questions, add any other questions that might help you gain insights from your parents that are unique to your school. Our Question Bank’s Education category has many pre-written questions to choose from. And if you’d like to write your own, refer to Dr. Phil Garland’s tips for writing great survey questions.

Have more questions?

We have a list of common questions from schools answered in our help center. If your school or district is interested in using the survey and has further questions, please get in touch with us.

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