Snapshots of happiness

Posted by James Rainey - 09 February, 2017

Earlier in the school year, our Board chair, Brian Pollock, asked me about the big-picture metrics that I use to measure the overall health of Randolph School. There are many ways that schools measure their effectiveness, and one of mine is simply, “How happy are our families?”

At Randolph, we believe that our focus must always remain on students. Educators concentrate on many things, but if we lose sight of our students’ experiences, we are missing the mark.

I believe that the schools that are most effective, and thus have the most satisfied families, are those which place a premium on being student-centered.

In November, we offered a short survey to parents focused on two questions: “How likely are you to recommend Randolph to your friends or colleagues?” and “Why did you respond the way you did?”

This was our second year to participate in this pilot effort, conducted by a group of our peer schools in the consortium known as INDEX (Independent School Data Exchange). INDEX is a group of outstanding independent day schools from around the country who benchmark in many areas of school life to learn from one another. The willingness of Randolph families to recommend our school to others increased from last year to this year, both in terms of our individual rating and in terms of comparison to our INDEX colleagues.

I am so grateful to the many Randolph parents who participated in the survey. Our response rate was close to 60%, which was an increase from last year and provides a great foundation on which to build. And the responses were generally positive and encouraging. While a number doesn’t quantify an entire experience, it does give us a snapshot into the overall satisfaction of our families. Half of those responding indicated a “10” on a scale of 0 to 10 when asked how likely they would be to recommend Randolph.

A rating of "10" does not mean, of course, that those 197 families have had perfect experiences. But it does mean that they have had rich and meaningful experiences that they want to share with others.

The comments offered with the feedback were enlightening and helpful as we work continually to improve the student experience at Randolph. Many times when one reads through survey comments, the negative voices tend to be the loudest. Such was not the case here.

You told us not only what you would like to see improved; you also told us what you loved. You shared the strength of the academic program, the fact that your children are known and cared for, and that they are (in the words of many of you) “thriving.” At the same time, you also told us where we could improve in challenging our students and maximizing the value of their educational experiences. We take those suggestions to heart and are continually working to address the needs of our students and their families. Your feedback matters, and we are listening.

I had the opportunity to discuss the INDEX survey results with our Randolph Community Network (RCN) executive committee members a few weeks ago. They were also interested and encouraged by the responses that you shared. We are fortunate to have a group of parents who are so dedicated to serve as ambassadors for our school, and I encourage you to be in dialogue with them about our mutual partnership toward the benefit of Randolph students. This RCN group includes our formalized parent ambassador groups: academics ambassadors, arts ambassadors, admissions ambassadors, and athletics ambassadors. But in fact, we all are ambassadors for Randolph.

To be the very best school we can be, we need to engage each day in work that continues to attract outstanding students from across our region. And we hope that every current family takes to heart the opportunity to share their Randolph experience with prospective families.

The most selective educational institutions in the country expend the greatest effort in continually attracting students who will enrich their communities – students who are eager learners and eager contributors to the life of the school. This is what we seek at Randolph as well. Your feedback helps us to improve the student experience at Randolph, and your willingness to invite new families to join us helps all of us to be better.

In April, in preparation for our five-year reaccreditation, Randolph will conduct a more extensive parent survey that will offer you the opportunity to share what you value most in your child's education and to assess how we are performing in meeting your expectations. Beyond the snapshot offered by our November parent survey, this more thorough questionnaire will enable you to provide detailed feedback, with reference to which we will continue to shape our wonderful school. When called upon to respond, I hope that you will do so. We will benefit from knowing more specifically the things that you value most as well as your ideas for how we can best meet the aspirations that you have for your children.

I am grateful to be in partnership with you, and I look forward to learning more from you in April.

Topics: parents, Head of School, parent satisfaction, accrediation

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