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Family Engagement

Your District Needs a Family Engagement Survey + 21 Questions To Ask

Sam DeFlitch
Sam DeFlitch
Your District Needs a Family Engagement Survey + 21 Questions To Ask



As schools and districts work to create positive learning environments, it’s crucial they encourage family involvement in their child’s education. Research shows when schools successfully engage families, students are more likely to succeed. Students with highly-engaged parents and caregivers:

  • Earn higher test scores
  • Develop better social skills
  • Are more likely to graduate

Additionally, families are showing increased interest in being involved in their children’s education program. By proactively engaging families, school districts can help make parents and caregivers partners in their child’s education—from elementary school to high school.

As part of building these partnerships, schools must elevate family voice and experience. Family engagement surveys are one way to collect robust data that prioritizes caregiver and parent voice.

The back-to-school transition is the perfect time to develop and administer a family engagement survey. Using survey data to understand family perception of engagement, school climate, and their child’s learning can help your school or district develop family engagement initiatives this school year. Because when families are partners in education, students thrive.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

Importance of Family Engagement: Schools and districts must prioritize family involvement in their child’s education. Research demonstrates that engaged parents and caregivers lead to students who earn higher test scores, develop better social skills, and are more likely to graduate.

Utilizing Family Engagement Surveys: Administering family engagement surveys provides insights into the needs, obstacles, and challenges facing caregivers. These surveys empower schools to gather feedback effectively, streamline decision-making, and develop initiatives that engage parents and caregivers as partners in education.

Components of Family Engagement Surveys: Family engagement surveys, such as Panorama’s Family-School Relationships Survey, cover various key topics, including family engagement, school fit, family support, family efficacy, learning behaviors, school climate, barriers to engagement, roles and responsibility, and school safety.

Next Steps for Districts: To sustain family involvement and boost student success, districts should consider conducting bi-annual online surveys to collect robust data that elevate family voices and experiences. These surveys can help schools create more welcoming environments, support student learning at home, and build lasting partnerships contributing to student success.


What Is a Family Engagement Survey?

By administering family engagement surveys, districts and schools can better understand the needs, obstacles, and challenges facing caregivers. Family engagement surveys can streamline decision-making and empower schools and districts to gather feedback while effectively engaging caregivers and parents.

Panorama’s research-based, open-source Family-School Relationships Survey was developed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. It provides schools with a clear picture of family attitudes about several key topics, including:

  • Family Engagement: The degree to which families become involved with and interact with their child’s school.
  • School Fit: Families’ perceptions of how well a school matches their child's developmental needs.
  • Family Efficacy: How confident families are with regard to key parenting skills.
  • Learning Behaviors: Families' perceptions of their child's learning-related behaviors
  • School Climate: Perceptions of the overall social and learning climate of the school.
  • Barriers to Engagement: Factors that can create challenges for families to interact with or become involved with their child’s school.
  • Roles and Responsibility: Perceptions of who should be primarily responsible for school success.
  • School Safety: Perceptions of student physical and psychological safety at school.

If your school or district is developing a back-to-school family and parent survey, we want to help. Here’s a list of 21 important survey questions to ask about family engagement this school year.


21 Survey Questions to Ask in Your District’s Family and Parent Engagement Survey

Here are 21 survey questions—taken directly from Panorama’s Family-School Relationships Survey—your school or district can use in your family and parent engagement survey.

Family Engagement

  1. How often do you meet in person with teachers at your child's school?
  2. In the past year, how often have you discussed your child's school with other parents from the school?
  3. What recommendation would you make to the school for how to improve communications with parents?

School Fit

  1. How much of a sense of belonging does your child feel at their school?
  2. How well do the teaching styles of your child's teachers match your child's learning style?
  3. What is the best thing that the school does to help your child feel like the school is a good fit for them?

Family Support

  1. How often do you have conversations with your child about what their class is learning at school?
  2. How often do you help your child understand the content they are learning in school?
  3. How often do you help your child engage in activities which are educational outside the home?
  4. What does the school do well in helping you support your child?

Family Efficacy

  1. How confident are you in your ability to support your child's learning at home?
  2. How confident are you that you can motivate your child to try hard in school?
  3. How confident are you in your ability to help your child deal with their emotions appropriately?

Learning Behaviors

  1. On average, how well does your child work independently on learning activities at home?
  2. How motivated is your child to learn the topics covered in class?
  3. How often does your child read for fun?
  4. If another parent asked your advice for getting their child to be a more motivated learner outside of school, what suggestions would you give them?

School Climate

  1. To what extent do you think that children enjoy going to your child's school?
  2. How well do administrators at your child’s school create a school environment that helps children learn?
  3. What do you think your school could do to improve the social feel of the school for students?
  4. What are the most important things your child’s school does to create a positive social climate for students?


Frequently Asked Questions:

How can family engagement surveys benefit our district?
Family engagement surveys provide valuable insights into the needs, challenges, and perceptions of families within your district. By understanding these factors, you can make informed decisions, develop initiatives to better engage families, and foster partnerships that contribute to student success.

What steps should our district take to implement family engagement surveys effectively
To implement family engagement surveys effectively, start by selecting a research-based survey tool like Panorama’s Family-School Relationships Survey. Communicate the purpose and importance of the survey to families, ensure accessibility across diverse communities, and prioritize the collection and analysis of survey data to inform decision-making.

How can we ensure high participation rates in family engagement surveys?
To encourage high participation rates, communicate the survey's importance and benefits to families through multiple channels, such as emails, newsletters, social media, and parent-teacher meetings. Offer incentives, assure confidentiality, and provide options for completing the survey online or in multiple languages to accommodate diverse needs.

What should our district do with the insights gathered from family engagement surveys?
Use the insights gathered from family engagement surveys to develop actionable strategies and initiatives that address the identified needs and challenges of caregivers. Engage stakeholders, including parents, educators, and community members, in the process of reviewing survey data and collaboratively designing solutions to enhance family-school partnerships.


Family and Parent Involvement: Next Steps for Your District

Sustained family involvement is a key part of boosting student success across all grade levels. Consider conducting bi-annual, district-wide online surveys to collect robust data that can elevate family voices and experiences. To encourage participation, frame surveys as an opportunity for families to share how your school can create a more welcoming environment, support student learning at home, and build lasting partnerships that contribute to student success.

Need help getting started? Download Panorama’s free Family-School Relationships Survey. In it, you’ll find over 100 questions that elevate family voice in their child’s educational journey.

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