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.