Improving Student Survey Response Rates

Students are the reason that we all do what we do. We all want the quality of their learning and social-emotional development at school to be top-notch. And because they are the primary experts on their school experiences, their input, of course, is very important to us. Yet, students can sometimes be a challenging group when it comes to collecting that input.

After many years and suggesting countless ideas to boost student survey participation, we’ve found a pretty simple, yet effective strategy:


Communicate- It’s important to talk about the survey in the weeks and days before the survey launches. Not just with students themselves but with their families and staff members as well. We will provide you with a number of templates to use when getting the word out about your survey.


Educate- Let students know why the survey is important. Helping them to understand that the data collected from surveys are used to drive planning and school improvements may change the way they think about surveys. Let them know that their feedback is important, and without it, schools are missing a key source of information on how to best meet student needs.


Plan- Schedule a time for all students to take the survey. Homeroom/resource/advisory is a great time for older students. Some schools find it’s simplest to choose one core subject and ask students to take the survey as an assigned task. The best response rates happen when time has been dedicated.


Motivate- A typical student survey has a response rate of between 60-80%. We’ve seen a few districts get as high as 90-95% response rates. This was not luck! The most successful surveys started with a participation goal. Sharing your goal with students and staff and keeping them updated on their progress throughout the survey window can help motivate students to do their part to meet the goal.

We’re here to support you every step along the way. Our software is designed to send

reminder emails to non-responders, and we will watch your response rate, send you updates, and make suggestions.


Lastly, we understand that school days can be unpredictable at times. Student absences, pep rallies, snow days, fire drills, technical issues – any number of things can interrupt students’ ability to respond to their survey. For that reason, we like to be as flexible as possible. We won’t close your student survey until you are satisfied with your response rate.


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Cari Udermann, Project Implementation Manager and dog lover.

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