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The versatile index.

Let’s cut to the chase. Index scores are an outstanding tool to get a snapshot understanding of your district. What’s more, they are excellent for building a long-term strategic plan. We take the work out of creating various areas or buckets of planning.

Indexes are created by feeding key survey questions into an overall measurement (e.g., “Learning” for students).

A student’s responses could be higher or lower than their peers, so combining the results from multiple questions provides an overall score on each student’s learning situation. If a student only answers positively on one of the learning questions, they are, in essence describing a learning-related problem to you.

I (Tim) served on a rural Wisconsin school board for over a decade, so let me speak to that for a moment.

An index provided a much clearer understanding by averaging out the individual question results. This is the level of analysis we needed to understand problem areas in our district. Individual question responses provided too much detail.

Fast forward to today, for district staff who are responsible for addressing the learning area, our software can provide reports that provide the overall learning score for the entire district, or you can drill down to individual students, plus the individual questions that contributed to the overall score. This allows district initiatives to target responses to individual questions, which, lover time, can raise the overall learning score.

Let’s dig a little deeper into that Learning index from our Student Life surveys.

The index score you receive is actually the combination of a pre-selected group of questions that cover different aspects of a student’s learning situation, including lesson comprehension, support inside/outside the classroom, and motivation. If your students score favorably on some questions but have low scores for most, your index score will drop. This is a signal that learning support must be an area of focus.

You’ll lose this general pattern of results if you only have question-level data, making the index a must-have decision-making tool. (That being said, you can always dig deeper into your data. Our software can create reports that provide data broken down by individual students so your team can see what questions/factors led to lower scores. In other words, bite off what you can chew.)

Below are examples of various indexes from our staff, student, and parent surveys, and some of the questions that are averaged to create them:

Student Learning Index – “I learn at school because my classes are challenging, interesting, and I can get help when I need it.”

  • I try my best at school.

  • My teachers are available outside of class to help me if I need it.

  • I like working in groups with other students.

Parent Atmosphere Index – “My child feels safe and supported at school.”

  • My child feels safe at school

  • School facilities are clean and well-kept

  • I am satisfied with our school’s efforts to address bullying.

Staff Support Index – “I have the support I need to help educate our students and work as a team.”

  • I have the technology I need to do my job well.

  • Our parents and community support the school district.

  • The District’s pay practices are fair.

Index scores are presented in tabular form in our Survey Results Analysis system or in a spreadsheet/summary report, which is available for purchase upon completion of any of our surveys.

In sum, index scores are great for high-level decision making and getting an overall feel for how your district is doing in a number of important areas. They can help prioritize areas for improvement, especially when paired with question or individual-level data.

If you would like to learn more about the School Perceptions indexes or any of our other offerings, feel free to contact us at or 262.644.4300.

Thanks for reading, and happy surveying!


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Tim Mikula, VP of Technology, and Tom Wade, Project Manager.


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