Survey: What’s the Purpose? Improving Our College Prep School in Texas

School Updates

At the end of the 2018-019 school year, San Marcos Academy endeavored to solicit feedback from our clientele with a Google Forms survey. It proved to be an effective way to compile a good bit of information in a usable format. Our response rate was decent, but not all that we had hoped it to be.

Illustration of a survey on a tablet

While the responses certainly gave us workable data and input, we did not get the clear majority of responses we had hoped for. The reasons for that could be many, and I suppose we could conduct a survey to find out why people did not take our survey! However, that seems like a contradictory proposition, so I will here attempt to convince you to take our second survey. To begin my argument or plea, I introduce the four main reasons to conduct a survey as shared by Snapsurveys*.

What are the 4 main reasons to conduct surveys? 

  1. Uncover the answers. In a non-intimidating survey environment, you will learn about what motivates survey respondents and what is important to them, and gather meaningful opinions, comments, and feedback. A non-intimidating survey environment is one that best suits the privacy needs of the survey respondent. Respondents are more likely to provide open and honest feedback in a more private survey method. Methods such as online surveys, paper surveys, or mobile surveys are more private and less intimidating than face-to-face survey interviews or telephone surveys.
  2. Evoke discussion. Give your survey respondents an opportunity to discuss important key topics. Communicate with your respondents about your survey topic. This allows you to dig deeper into your survey, and can incite topics related to your survey within a broader perspective.
  3. Base decisions on objective information. Conducting surveys is an unbiased approach to decision-making. Don’t rely on “gut feelings” to make important business decisions. You can collect unbiased survey data and develop sensible decisions based on analyzed results. By analyzing results, you can immediately address topics of importance, rather than waste time and valuable resources on areas of little or no concern.
  4. Compare results. Survey results provide a snapshot of the attitudes and behaviors – including thoughts, opinions, and comments – about your target survey population. This valuable feedback is your baseline to measure and establish a benchmark from which to compare results over time.

*taken from:

Conversely, I would ask that you consider the main reasons you should take our survey. First, you should in no way be intimidated by the survey. We did this last year and not one respondent was singled out for giving an answer that was negative or critical. Second, you need to register your opinions for our consideration. I want to assure you that we do consider all of them, even the outliers that stand all alone. On the third point in the Snapsurveys information above, I have several thoughts for your consideration. We are looking for the most salient points registered by the most people. We cannot be all things to all people. What we desire to be is the best SMA that we can be for the largest clientele we can serve. However, even the smallest point by the fewest people, even one, will be read and considered. Finally, we are looking for checkpoints that show improvement over last year.

Raised hands and speech bubbles illustrate responses to the survey improving your college prep school in Texas.

SMA is a work in progress. Our lower school is basically one year old; because we went from a fledgling school to a much larger school in the first year, we basically started all over again in 2019-2020. There are many best practices in place and the staff there is top-notch, but we have bigger plans unfolding as I write this. Entering your opinions will help us in the process. The Middle School has undergone changes due to the changing dynamics of the institution. The Upper School culture has undergone change as well, and will see more in 2020-2021.

There is a wealth of expertise and experience in the leadership at SMA. We ask for your trust in taking this survey, that we will listen and respond with a better product year after year. We also ask for thoughtful input that can be interpreted for improvement. This instrument should not be weaponized for harsh criticisms of individuals. If you want an appointment to voice these, please give myself or Mr. McCray a call. I believe there are parents who will tell you we listen and we take measures to change or fix those things that need fixing. While we may not always give you an answer you want to hear, we will lend an ear.

One example of an issue that we heard clearly in last year’s survey was parent communication. You wanted more, and you wanted it in a timely fashion. We held staff development addressing this issue, and I think some of you have noted positive changes in that area. We still have had some complaints, but I have files of email communications now numbering in the high hundreds to individual parents not including mass mail outs to class sets of parents. Lesson plans and grades were timelier, and when they were not, we reacted.

This is your ballot. Cast your vote and be heard. The famous comedian George Carlin said, “If you don’t vote, you lose the right to complain.”

Submitted by Bob Wiegand, SMA Academic Dean

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