Stakeholder Voice, a vital component to the community school model

Tuesday May 21st, 2024

Data-driven decision making is a guiding principle of the Community School Model. We look at attendance, behavior, academic proficiency rates and more to determine needs and measure impact – but we also place heavy emphasis on stakeholder voice.

Stakeholder voice – or, the self-reported experiences and opinions of students, staff and parents – is a vital component of United Way’s Community School Model. Community schools are a collective impact initiative, meaning success comes from collaboration and partnerships. If we ignore the voices of those we work with, we won’t make impact.

We rely on stakeholders to tell us what their needs are – we don’t prescribe them. That’s why United Way's Data and Evaluation Team places equal emphasis on the quantitative and qualitative when examining a school’s data, from the Action Planning stage and beyond.  

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Each established community school surveys students, staff and parents annually so we can keep a pulse on trends, new gaps and areas of success. 
For example, this year we saw drastic increases in positive answers to questions on morale and environment amongst staff at Wilson Middle School, a United Way community school. In this first year since their Action Plan was completed, Wilson’s community school director Julia Boyd has prioritized building staff relationships and appreciation efforts. Survey results let us know – her strategies are working!  

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By the time the 23-24 school year ends in June, we will have distributed 48 stakeholder surveys amongst our 16 established community schools, and this year for the first time, we were able to offer parent surveys in 12 different languages for non-English speaking families.  

During the onboarding phase schools undergo extensive stakeholder data collection, where surveys are followed up with focus groups and interviews. Stretching over the past nine months, the data collection efforts at Erie High have included community members, parents, cyber students, in-person student and staff surveys. We heard from more than 1,200 stakeholders in the surveying process.  

Following survey analysis, we held focus groups with staff, students, parents and community members. At the completion of the process, 29 focus groups with 176 unique participants had been held. 
As we dive into the collected data to determine Erie High’s needs and gaps, stakeholder voices will be at the forefront of our analysis. This will drive our next steps as we work to turn Erie High into United Way’s next community school. Stay tuned as our first phase continues!