Staff Engagement Survey Helps Districts Measure School Climate

When the School District of Monroe Superintendent Cory Hirsbrunner was looking for a way to gather feedback from her staff on District initiatives and culture she turned to School Perceptions. The Wisconsin – based company was a known entity with the District as they were already working together on a community survey. “We are committed to ensuring every employee in the District has an opportunity to provide input and feedback,” Hirsbrunner shared. “We value how staff fee we are doing as District and the challenges they are experiencing that need to be addressed.”

The web-based school staff engagement survey is designed to gather feedback on staff members’ feelings and perceptions on specific engagement drivers. “We know that there is a strong correlation between staff engagement and student engagement,” shares Bill Foster, founder and president of School Perceptions. “When students are engaged, achievement increases.”

An engaged employee is one who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work and takes positive action to further their school’s reputation and success. But are workers happy? According to a 2014 report by the Conference Board, the New York-based nonprofit research group, 52.3{a61c4e1b991c7f3a090c87cb66410712d4121fe18ab0f6421d85cbe80290558f}-are unhappy at work. Are teachers better? No. According to a MetLife Survey published in 2013, Teacher job satisfaction had plummeted to its lowest level in 25 years, from 62 {a61c4e1b991c7f3a090c87cb66410712d4121fe18ab0f6421d85cbe80290558f} in 2008 to 39 {a61c4e1b991c7f3a090c87cb66410712d4121fe18ab0f6421d85cbe80290558f} in 2012 – a total of 23 points.

Research shows that employee engagement is the result of employees feeling connected and valued as well as report a strong sense of balance in their lives. As a result, engaged employees are producers. They work hard, stay late and give their best day in and day out. When teachers are engaged, kids learn.

The School Perceptions Staff Engagement Survey collects data on 12 indexes of employee engagement including control over work environment, health and wellness, workload, affirmation, collaboration and teamwork, trust in building leadership, culture of educational excellence, tools and training, public and parent support, trust in District leadership, communications and planning and improvement process.

Results reports allow a District to break out index results by various employee groups as well as compare themselves to similar schools across the state. “Our goal is to create easily usable data that Districts can use immediately,” states Foster.

For the Lancaster Community Schools that data identified the need to change a school calendar policy and adjust staffing. In addition, they were able to see how staff were feeling regarding the District’s compensation structure. “We were pleased to learn that despite the negative climate for public employees during the last couple of years, our staff felt the school board and District had done their best to maintain a compensation structure that was fair to both the staff and taxpayers,” shared board president Bill Haskins.

In the School District of Monroe the District’s administrative team used the data to plan for the coming school year. “It was extremely valuable to now have the numbers and documentation to support what may have been assumptions in some areas,” Hirsbrunner explained. “The reports were extremely helpful and easy to read. The color coded reports gave a clear indication of what needs attention and where we are doing well.”

The survey takes an employee 10-15 minutes to complete. The School Perceptions software tracks survey completion, sending reminders to employees who have not yet taken the survey. As a result,Districts experience high participation rates, often near 85{a61c4e1b991c7f3a090c87cb66410712d4121fe18ab0f6421d85cbe80290558f} of all employees. “If you are going to have usable and beneficial data it is important to ensure a high percentage of responses and our software does that,” Foster shared.

Once closed, a school district can receive index and similar school analysis reports within a week.

Additionally, School Perceptions can provide District’s with a comment analysis. Board members in the Lancaster Community Schools were affirmed by the comments they read. “We were pleased to learn how many respondents articulated the strengths of the District and their commitment to not only our students, but the District as a whole,” Haskins commented.

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