Why use the Harvard Graduate Education K-12 Parent Survey?

If you're considering using our Harvard Graduate School of Education K-12 Survey, we've put together a list of frequently asked questions to better help you decide whether the survey template is right for you.

You can also skip ahead to the section most relevant to you by clicking a question below:

Can I do a paper-and-pencil or hardcopy version of the survey?
Why should we use this survey instead of our current one?
Why this group of questions?
Which sections of the survey should I use?
The survey is too long, can I shorten it?
Can I add my own questions to the survey?
Does this help us measure against our standards? Will this help the accreditation process?
When should I send the survey out?
What kind of response rate can I expect?
What happens if I need help?
How quickly can I get results?
How often do I need to run the survey?
Can I translate the survey, or is there a multi-language version?
Why should we use SurveyMonkey for this?

 

Can I do a paper-and-pencil or hardcopy version of the survey?

Absolutely. You can print the survey and distribute it to parents by in physical form. Then, when the surveys are returned to you, you can enter the responses manually a number of ways. See more about entering responses manually for hardcopy responses.

 

Why should we use this survey instead of our current one?

We've found that many surveys have missed aspects of the family & school relationship that drive student outcomes. Dr. Hunter Gehlbach of Harvard Graduate School of Education created this survey to help K-12 schools ask the right questions to assess parent involvement.

Additionally, we used a survey design methodology to understand how ambiguity in survey language might impact respondents' interpretations across key areas. For example, do parents see "academic involvement" as test scores and grades, or do they interpret this to mean reading proficiency and critical thinking skills? Is "improved school performance" viewed through the lens of traditional survey outcomes across subjects, or does it include social and psychological aspects of well-being? Nuances like these were critical in creating questions that could effectively help schools assess parental involvement. 

 

Why this group of questions?

We partnered with a research team from the Harvard Graduate School of Education (GSE) to assess key areas of family and school relationships. They used academic literature, parent interviews, focus groups, expert panels, and survey design best practices to craft the survey we have to offer. 

Parental involvement in schools helps students earn higher grades, boost test scores, improve social skils, and even graduate; according to the 2002 paper entitled "A New Wave of Evidence: The Impact of School, Family, and Community Connections on Student Achievement" by Harvard GSE Lecturer, Dr. Karen Mapp.

 

Which sections of the survey should I use?

The survey is broken out into several distinct sections, which you can use depending on what you'd like to get feedback on at your school. Here's a description of each section:

Parental support: How much help are students getting at home?
Students are in school for a limited time but learning can happen constantly – in the afternoons, evenings, weekends, and over the summer.  This scale helps schools identify how families are supporting children’s learning and development outside of school.  As areas for improvement are identified, schools can support families to help maximize student learning during out-of-school time.  Knowing how to help families support student learning can have profound, positive effects on student achievement. 
   
The scale can also be used to track whether programs aimed to encourage parent learning support at home are effective by allowing schools to compare levels of parent support before and after parents receive an intervention.

 

Parent self-efficacy:  How confident are parents in supporting their child's schooling?
A common reason families tend not to engage with their child’s school or offer little support for learning in their homes is that they do not feel that they have the capacity to do so.  If this is an issue for families at your school, it will almost certainly need to be a priority for intervention. This scale can help identify which groups of parents are confident in how to support their children.  By pairing them with parents who are less sure about how to help their children, schools can develop strong networks of parents that work to bolster the achievement of all students.

This scale can assess whether programs designed to help families become more engaged with their children’s learning and schooling are actually working.

 

School fit:  How well do a school's academic program, social climate, and organizational structure match a student's needs?
Parents’ views of how well a school “fits” their child’s needs often has a strong impact on that child’s view of school.  By assessing parents’ perceptions of school fit, schools can often identify and correct sources of misperception that affect both parents and students’ attitudes towards the school. Schools that track family perceptions of school fit are often better able to address issues of student enrollment and retention.

 

Child behaviors:  What habits have students developed that shape their success in school?
Schools can assess the extent to which students are developing habits that will help them succeed in school.  This scale can also track whether these habits are increasing or decreasing over time.

Using this scale can help schools evaluate whether specific programs that are designed to promote positive learning behaviors are working. This scale can be used to select students who could be good candidates for a peer mentoring systems in schools e.g., where older students with particularly positive/successful behaviors are able to coach younger students who struggle in this domain.


Parent engagement:  How engaged are parents in their child's schooling?

Barriers:  What barriers do parents perceive as preventing them from engaging with the school?
Parent engagement is a robust predictor of students’ success in school – if schools want to improve parent engagement they have to be able to assess it first.  Schools often use the engagement scale in tandem with those “barriers” items that might be issues for families at their school.  This allows schools to gain specific insights into which families are less engaged with the school and why.

This scale is often particularly helpful for parent-teacher organizations and family engagement coordinators to identify which groups of families they might reach out to as a means to bolstering the engagement of the entire school community.

 

School climate:  How do parents view their school’s academic and social environment?
This scale is particularly useful in helping schools evaluate whether particular school improvement efforts change parent perceptions of the school.  Often changing parent perceptions can be as easy as providing better information to parents about the improvements that have already been made.

Like the school fit scale, this scale often has implications for student enrollment and retention.  To the extent that school choice is a prominent issue in your district, parent perceptions of school climate can be immensely important for schools to monitor.

 

Roles and responsibilities:  How do parents view their roles as well as teachers' roles in different aspects of their child's learning?
By learning who parents view as primarily responsible for different aspects of their children’s learning, schools can often get important insights into the types of behaviors that occur at home.  For example, if parents of a high school-aged child indicate that it is “primarily schools” who are responsible for helping “children deal with their emotions appropriately” that may explain a lot about the child’s behavior and attitude towards school.

Often problems in family-school relationships emerge as a result of divergent perceptions of who is responsible for which aspects of educating students.  This scale can help schools identify when families and schools have divergent perceptions about who is responsible for what.  Being able to remediate these issues before they escalate into conflicts can be tremendously important for students’ well-being.

 

The survey is too long, can I shorten it?

Of course. You can shorten the survey to make it work for your audience. We recommend keeping sections intact; so just delete entire sections rather than hand-pick certain questions.

 

Can I add my own questions to the survey?

Yes again. We recommend adding these custom questions in a separate section, but you should tailor the survey to meet your needs.

 

Does this help us measure against our standards? Will this help the accreditation process?

Not quite. The goal of this survey is to help educators understand the different facets of the parent/school relationship.

 

When should I send the survey out?

You can deploy or send the survey at any time—whatever suits your timeline.

 

What kind of response rate can I expect?

It varies. This depends on a lot of factorsanywhere from 10-30% is within normal range.

 

What happens if I need help?

Contact support, and one of our talented support staff will get back to you pronto. We offer email support 24/7.

 

How quickly can I get results?

Immediately. You can view your results as they accumulate in the Analyze Results tab of your SurveyMonkey account.


How often do I need to run the survey?

We recommend running it once a year.

 

Can I translate the survey, or is there a multi-language version?

We offer a version in Spanish. You can change the language of the survey to see it show up in Question Bank and or a new survey.

 

Why should we use SurveyMonkey for this?

We're confident this template is reliable and methodologically sound. It's simple, secure, and you have immediate access to your results. It's easier for parents to take the survey, and we're committed to helping schools. We also offer prompt 24/7 support!