Setting Goals for Your Surveys

What You’ll Learn

This article focuses on how to set project goals for your survey administration(s).

Why Goal Setting Matters

As educators, you live and breathe backwards planning. Feedback projects and the data you collect are no different. Project goals will anchor your work throughout and shape the way you communicate with your stakeholders. Setting goals for what you’re hoping to learn and achieve will make it that much easier to talk to your school community about why this work matters.

How to Set Goals

Project goals can vary widely depending on who you’re gathering feedback from and what you’re hoping to learn. Here are some examples of goals:

  • Learn whether parents feel well-supported by school.
  • Measure whether school safety initiatives are making a difference at your school.
  • Learn teachers’ perceptions of the evaluation system.

Here are some things to consider as you and your planning team begin thinking about identifying your goals for collecting and analyzing feedback:

  • Is there a response rate target you want to hit?
  • What questions are you hoping to answer?
  • What do you want to learn about your school or district?
  • What are your school or district goals? How could feedback data help inform and understand progress on these goals?
  • How do you plan on sharing the results?
  • How do you want stakeholders to be invested in the process?

Take Action

Here’s an exercise you might consider doing with your planning team or leadership team to identify goals and develop consensus among your team. 

  1. Brainstorm Ideas
    • Give 5 post-it notes to each person
    • Ask people to think about: "Once we have the results from this survey, what questions should we be able to answer?"
    • Write each question on a separate post-it
  2. Surface Themes
    • All team members read their post-its aloud or place them on a wall
    • As a team, group the post-its based on common themes
  3. Select Themes
    • Narrow down to 1-2 key themes/categories
    • Modify as needed to name the 1-2 big questions you hope to answer with survey results
  4. Define Success
    • Create a 3 column T-chart and label the columns Before, During and After
    • Discuss: If we want to answer these 1-2 big questions, what has to occur before, during and after the survey?
    • As a group or in small groups make a list of the need to have items for each column
  5. Identify Collaborators
    • Use a different colored marker/pen
    • Next to each item on the T-chart, write who needs to be involved in each step (consider anyone who is touched by this project: families, focus groups, students, teachers, school leaders, etc)
  6. Reflect and Think Ahead
    • Share 1 big takeaway from today's meeting and 1 next step you have for yourself
    • Discuss next steps for team

After you go through this exercise, you should have the information to communicate project goals more broadly with members of your community. Don't forget to share these project goals and your definition of success with Panorama.

Additional Resources

For more information about building community buy-in, check out this article

Want to learn how a district involved teachers in their goal-setting and planning process? Read about what happened in Millbury, MA.

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