Written by Mary Beth Peabody
Parents and guardians in diocesan elementary schools were asked to complete a satisfaction survey at the end of the 2016-17 school year.
“The best way to ensure we are meeting the needs of our families is to ask them,” said superintendent of Catholic Schools Mary Boyle. “We want to do more of what’s working best and learn where there is room for improvement.”
Parents and guardians were asked to write in the top three reasons for their choice of school. The top answers were religion/faith (78 percent of respondents); environmental factors, such as small size, family/caring environment and strong discipline (69 percent of respondents); and academics (66 percent of respondents).
“These results reinforce the importance of our Catholic identity,” said Boyle. “People value an environment where students can embrace and experience their faith… and gain an academic advantage at the same time.”
Respondents were also asked whether schools were meeting their expectations in their top priority areas. Nearly 95 percent who identified religion, academics or environmental factors as their top priority said they were satisfied or extremely satisfied.
Boyle noted the survey yielded helpful input in some areas that are already being addressed, for example helping teachers adapt instruction for students with different needs. “We have already planned a full teacher in-service day in October on this topic,” she said.
Some respondents expressed the need to clarify and enhance communication channels among principal, teachers and parents. Boyle acknowledged how difficult it can be for schools to streamline communications when there are so many sources and information travels with “a click.”
“We are in the process of rolling out a new data management system, and most of our schools continually update their websites,” she said, adding that an active Social Media presence, email updates and text messaging alerts are among the tools schools use to keep parents informed.
When asked how likely they are to recommend their child’s school to family or friends, more than half the respondents selected 10 — extremely likely — on a scale of 1 to 10. The average across 1,600 respondents was 8.3.
In terms of value, 92 percent of respondents are satisfied with the value they receive for tuition paid.
— “We love the school, the principal, and all the staff and teachers.”
— “This school and the staff are a complete blessing for my family.”
— “Unfortunately, our family is relocating and will not be attending this school in the fall, but if a three-hour commute were possible, we would without a doubt continue our son’s education there, as well as our children who are following behind him.”
— “I am very grateful for the love and support the school has given myself and my three daughters. Two have graduated and gone on to Catholic high school.”
— “Very pleased with the person my son is becoming and I strongly believe it takes a village to raise a child in today’s society and what better way then starting with school, church and family.”
— “We love the school and are so happy that our son is able to attend. It is our hope that we will be able to send both of our sons to this school for their entire education. We feel blessed to have this school so close. Thank you!”
— “We transferred from public school and couldn’t be happier with our choice. My kids (going into grades K, 3, and 6) have thrived both academically and socially.”
— “I am very happy to send my child to [a school where] Catholic faith and academics are hand in hand…love to see my child at mass and at the kindergarten level knows his Stations of the Cross… Wow! The academics have been great and he loves learning…thank you for the Catholic education my child is receiving!”
Mary Beth Peabody is communications and marketing manager, Office of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Camden.