Study: Parent satisfaction can be leveraged for SAT gains

Rather than putting in place complex processes and procedures, traditional public schools can easily measure their ability to make SAT gains by assessing customer satisfaction, according to a study by scholars at Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business and Texas A&M University’s Mays School of Business.

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SAT scores are a key metric used to assess student and school success. Colleges use SAT scores in their admissions process since the scores can indicate the likelihood of student success in college. Not surprisingly, helping their students to achieve high SAT scores is a key goal of many public schools and school districts in their ongoing attempt to retain students and increase enrollment, the study’s authors said.

The study measured parent satisfaction with different schools and statistically correlated it with the average SAT scores of students. Results show a clear and strong association — parent satisfaction with their child’s school is positively associated with higher SAT scores. In fact, going from “very dissatisfied” to “very satisfied” is associated with a 169-point gain in SAT scores.

The inaugural 2017 Collaborative for Customer-Based Execution and Strategy (C-CUBES) Benchmark K-12 School Study is based on a nationally representative online survey of 7,259 parents conducted during October through November. The goal of the ongoing study is to provide an evidence-based approach to incorporate the stakeholder input in strategic planning and execution for public schools. The margin of error was plus or minus 1 percent at the 95 percent level of confidence.

“Many traditional public schools struggle to improve SAT scores, but they only look inward,” said study leader Vikas Mittal, the J. Hugh Liedtke Professor of Marketing at Rice. “By focusing on a systematic and scientific approach to measuring customer satisfaction, they can measure and improve their competency to affect outcomes like SAT scores, safety and student retention.”

“This study provides evidence that the customer’s voice is a good barometer to measure outcomes that matter most to leaders, parents, students and other stakeholders. SAT is one such outcome,” Mittal said.

Additional members of the research team include Jihye Jung at Rice and Shrihari Sridhar and Yixing Chen at Texas A&M.

C-CUBES released its inaugural 2017 study on public schools and parent satisfaction, which focused on family and community engagement, Nov. 29. A summary can be viewed here. A second study, released Dec. 5, found that traditional public schools are less likely to earn an A or A-plus from parents than private or charter schools are. A third study, released Dec. 14, found that traditional public-school parents who are “very dissatisfied” with their child’s school are 2.5 times more likely to switch to a charter school than parents who are “very satisfied.” A fourth study, released Feb. 5, showed that safety, just behind family and community engagement, is one of the most import drivers of parents’ satisfaction with their child’s school.

For more information about and insights from Jones School faculty research, visit the school’s Rice Business Wisdom website, http://ricebusinesswisdom.com.

About Jeff Falk

Jeff Falk is associate director of national media relations in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.