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School leaders need to make numerous decisions every single day and rely on having a full picture of what is going on in their schools to inform these decisions. Our partners at Measuring Success, a firm dedicated to helping foundations and nonprofits do better with data, understand how essential having the right kind of data is to a school’s success. We chatted with Harry Bloom and Daniel Chiat from Measuring Success about what they’ve learned in the pursuit of helping schools meet their goals.

When it comes to school programs and initiatives, how heavily do you rely on anecdotal evidence to tell you what’s working? If you’ve got a great faculty, enthusiastic students, and involved parents, it’s only natural to feel that the anecdotal evidence supports the notion that your school’s efforts are effective.

But anecdotal evidence doesn’t always show the whole story the same way that data can.

This belief in the power of data is what inspired Prizmah to join forces with Measuring Success to give schools the opportunity to participate in a survey experience that will fill in major gaps of understanding.

“The most effective schools are the ones that are able to understand data, interpret it correctly, and act on it in a strategic way so their vision is complemented by facts and by data,” said Daniel Chiat, VP of Measuring Success, who has worked extensively in Jewish private and independent schools, as well as across nonprofit organizations.

Before Harry Bloom, now Senior VP of Client Solutions at Measuring Success, was at the firm, he was leading national programs for PEJE, working with 80 schools to build enrollment and fundraising capacity. “Having survey data from parents, alumni, and students is absolutely critical to create the case for the strength of the school from an enrollment standpoint, and investing in the school from a funder standpoint. The ROI for these surveys is astronomical,” he said, calling data “the must-have toolkit for the day schools of today.”

Measuring Success has found that schools rely too much on anecdotal data to drive programming and strategic decision-making, Chiat said. “When you get in a room with the school leadership and have them hypothesize what their core constituents and strengths are, about 80 percent are disproven by data [collected by surveys], which gives an accurate read, rather than trusting the loudest person in the conference room or in the parking lot,” he said. “Once schools get a taste of it and see real data that paints a different picture, they begin to learn the power of data.”

In fact, Chiat finds that once organizations engage in data collection through surveys, they look to build on that experience — collecting more, different data that provides a better picture of the community. Then schools act on that data in preparing for the months and years ahead.

Bloom explained that Measuring Success surveys enable them to segment the data — sorting by parents, both recent and veteran, alumni, etc. — to give what he calls “an MRI for the school — bragging rights on what’s going well and blueprints for what’s not….it gives the most recent lens of how well your programming is satisfying your customers, and a predictive lens on what you need to deliver in order to be successful in attracting additional customers.”

At this year’s Prizmah Jewish Day School Conference, Measuring Success experts will be available to discuss your school’s specific data needs. However, there are only 20 discounted slots for each survey category. “If people sign up before the conference, they have a better chance at getting one of those slots; so if you want to move forward, don’t wait until the conference,” Bloom said.

The parent survey is the most comprehensive and can take the longest, depending on the parents’ relationship with the school, how many children are enrolled, etc. The other surveys take less time. And the Measuring Success team is available to counsel each school on which survey might be the most appropriate or helpful.

“Our surveys are designed with input from Jewish day schools,” Bloom said, “and we have an advanced database of responses that helps put your responses in context.”

Testimonials from Jewish day school leadership also praise the work of Measuring Success.

Rabbi Marc Baker, Head of School at Gann Academy, said that working with Measuring Success has given his school “a significantly more robust alumni community than we’ve had before. We’ve ramped up our alumni activities because we learned from Measuring Success’ survey what the alumni actually want from us.”

“The Measuring Success student survey helps us to discern information vital for living our mission,” said Rabbi Seth Linfield, former executive director, Yeshivah of Flatbush Day School, and current Head of School, Fuchs Mizrachi School. “Measuring Success is empowering us to reimagine education.”

And Dr. Bruce Powell, Head of School at de Toledo High School, said that “the work that we have done with Measuring Success allowed us to deeply examine what the perception is in our community of our program and of our excellence.”

Special Offer for Jewish Day Schools

Through a special arrangement with Prizmah, Measuring Success will offer the first 20 Jewish day schools that register in each survey category (Parent, Alumni, and Student) a special price of $4,500 per survey, per school. This rate is significantly reduced from the regular price of $7,000 to $9,000. Plus, schools that register for more than one survey will receive a further discount.

Your school also will receive customer support during the survey administration, comprehensive written reports of findings and their implications for school follow-up activities, and a 90-minute video conference to review survey findings.

In addition, participating schools will have access to the resultant community of practice emerging from the experience. And by diving deeper into data and collecting real information about the state of your school, leadership can assess success and plan for the years ahead, taking into account the specific needs of students, parents, and faculty members.

To register your school for a Measuring Success survey or to connect with a member of the Measuring Success team, contact Dr. Jon Mitzmacher.