If we took a very short survey about our recent IASB surveys, respondents would say they are too long. We don’t disagree, and we would like to explain.

The 2018 member and super­intendent surveys were the sixth by IASB, updating and improv­ing upon surveys in 1993, 1998, 2003, 2008, and 2013. We added an administrative professionals’ sur­vey this year. Over time, we have tweaked and improved the surveys, mindful of being able to compare data across the years. IASB pre­viously mailed bulky envelopes containing long paper-and-pencil surveys to thousands of school board members, at great expense. These were mailed back, at more expense, tallied by a research team at Western Illinois University and, months later, reported out. IASB surveys went online in 2013.

Each 2018 survey was as long as it needed to be to keep the promises we made to our members, and to build a bridge between past, present, and future responses. All of the demograph­ic questions, most of the “taking the pulse” questions, and many of the IASB services queries were designed so we could compare data to prior years.

The 2013 board member sur­vey, although 50 questions lon­ger, had more than twice as many responses as in 2018.

This may be because IASB sends out a lot more surveys than we used to, which could result in fewer responses. Market research­ers call this survey fatigue. We feel it, too. In all of 2013, IASB sent out 36 surveys, including the member and superintendent surveys. In the first four months of 2018, IASB sent 86. And we realize we’re not the only entity sending you surveys. The more requests people receive for feed­back, the less likely they are to complete them.

IASB will offer shorter, and pos­sibly more frequent, surveys in the future — perhaps shorter biennial rather than longer quinquennial surveys. With that, we also promise to design each future project to be respectful of your time.

Also, many respondents declined to answer the demographic questions. Perhaps this is another sign of the times: the necessary protection of personal information online. Or perhaps respondents con­cluded these questions were not rel­evant to the work they do as school board members. Rest assured, as promised, we don’t identify individ­uals by their responses. Even if we could, we don’t want to.

We value your time and exper­tise, while acknowledging that short­er surveys are a sign of the times. We also value the security and integri­ty of all of our respondents and are grateful to everyone for the thorough and thoughtful completion of the surveys.