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The SAIS Value Narrative Surveys are designed to help schools understand the relationship between:

  • the value stakeholders place on a variety of characteristics and
  • the perceived performance of the school at delivering on the characteristics. 
Click on the video at the left to get a brief overview of the components offered in the SAIS Stakeholder Surveys.

The Questions and the Report

After basic demographic questions, we ask respondents to provide feedback in nine different categories: curriculum and programming, faculty, athletics, fine arts, clubs and other curriculars, safety, preparatory, diversity, technology, and mission skills. Within each of the categories are specific items. At the specific item level, we ask respondents how important each of the items is to them and how well the school performs at delivering on each of the items. We also ask the so-called "ultimate question" about whether or not the respondent would recommend your school. The image on the right shows a sample of questions asked. 



The report the school receives includes data points that demonstrate the congruence between each of the categories and the items within each category. We call this single number the congruence coefficient and with it, we are able to show you the areas of greatest congruence and the areas of least congruence which suggest both areas of further study as well as areas of potential action and resources. Additionally, we provide you with a breakdown of the list of the individual items ranked by importance and another list ranked by performance. We also use data from the "ultimate question" to help group responses using the net promoter concepts.


For a sample of the questions and the report in PDF, click here.
For a detailed list of demographic questions, click here.
For a live demo, click here.

Schedule and Messaging for Survey Deployment

The cycle of the survey is designed to be approximately 15-20 days and really starts from the moment you register. SAIS has crafted messaging for you to use to help drive response rates and communicate consistently with SAIS. On the survey registration page ( you will find a document that includes the suggested language to use in your notifications. 

Register and submit email addresses  School Minimum ten days prior to deployment
Pre-survey notification School 3-5 days prior to survey deployment
Survey deployment SAIS deployment date
First Reminder SAIS 2-3 days after deployment
Second Reminder School (typically as part of a
pre-scheduled newsletter or communication)
3-5 days after deployment
Third and Final Reminder SAIS 5-7 days after deployment
Survey closes SAIS 7-10 days after deployment
Thank you note School after the survey closes; either before or after you have received results
Report given to school SAIS approximately ten days after survey closes

Survey Costs

Survey Price: $800
*SAIS Member Price*: $500
Custom virtual workshop to debrief results: $250

The survey includes all stakeholder groups: Parents, Trustees, Alumni, Faculty, Students, and Parents of Alumni. Note: You may choose to opt-out of one or more of the stakeholder groups, however the survey price will remain the same.

The optional custom workshop is delivered virtually in a live session. The session lasts approximately 90 minutes and provides you with tools to analyze and interpret your own data, comparative benchmark analysis, and ample opportunity for questions. When you receive your results, you will be given the opportunity to register for this workshop.

 Some FAQ's:

  • Why don't we just send all the messages out to stakeholders rather than SAIS? 
    By using a third party such as SAIS, your stakeholders will have a higher confidence level in the integrity and validity of the survey process. Also, SAIS is able to send follow-up emails to the people who have not yet responded to the survey. 
  • Why doesn't SAIS send all the messages out to stakeholders? Why are we sending the first message? 
    The initial message announcing the survey should come from a readily recognized source - such as under the signature of the head of school. There is compelling research that indicates that a pre-survey announcement from a trusted source increases response rates.
  • How long will it take people to complete the survey? 
    Our research shows the average amount of time to go through the demographic questions we ask and the two sets of questions takes about eight minutes.
  • Can we add our own questions? 
    Sure! But, there is already one narrative question in the survey - at the end, respondents are asked to describe why they rated the school the way they did on the net promoter question - these results are presented to the school grouped by stakeholders and sorted by promoter status. This yields rich context to the responses the respondent gave and most schools find this sufficient, without requesting to add their own questions. If you do feel the need to request additional questions, information about how to do this is listed on the survey registration page at
  • Can we change any of the questions?  
    The phrasing and format of the questions can not be changed as that would invalidate the benchmarks.
  • What if we don't have athletics? Or what if we aren't a faith-based school? Do you still ask those questions?  
    Yes. Remember, this survey is establishing the congruence between what families value and how well they perceive how you perform at delivering to them what they value. Just because you don't offer something, doesn't mean your stakeholders don't value it - nor does it imply that you should start offering it. This survey is all about measuring the congruence between how much (or little) your community values something and how well (or poorly) they perceive that you are delivering on those things. 
  • What if we don't have email addresses for students - or have them set in a way that they can't receive outside emails?
    Not a problem! We can provide you with a web address for this group. However, we aren't able to send any reminders or know who has or hasn't taken it. We recommend that if you use a single web address for this group, have students take the survey all at one time or during a specific class during the day. Make certain that your teachers don't attempt to answer any questions for students. Make note that you need a web address for students when you register for the survey. 
  • What if some stakeholders are in more than one group? 
    When you fill out the registration form, you will receive detailed information about how to prepare the email addresses for us and the instructions advise you to identify which group the stakeholder most align with - if someone is both a Parent and a Faculty member, select Faculty (other possibilities are included in the confirmation after you register).
  • Is there a technical manual? 
    You can view our technical manual here.



SAIS is developing additional surveys. 

  • Self-Determination Survey: measuring the three elements of self-determination (autonomy, belongingness, and competence), this survey is for faculty and students and helps the school measure and understand the critical relationships between these two groups.  
  • Board Governance Survey: this instrument is aligned with the SAIS Governance Training and measures the board and the head's commitment to the SAIS five domains of governance. 

Both of these are available now in pilot phase and include a custom report that shows the current benchmarks. Getting in on the ground floor gets you our thanks and gets these surveys at no cost, for now! Contact us for more information. And note - both surveys can be delivered with the Value Narrative Survey or as a stand-alone. 


The NAIS benchmarking survey gathers information about school operational items (enrollment, budget, salaries, etc). To have full access, schools should plan to submit data according to the timeframe listed on their website. DASL replaced the previous product called StatsOnLine. All independent schools are encouraged to utilize this tool, regardless of NAIS membership status. Visit to get started. 


Please feel free to contact us at with any questions or suggestions about new surveys to develop.


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Institute for Heads
June 27-30, 2017 | Palm Beach, FL
Engaging, energizing, and nurturing retreat for heads and spouses on the challenges of headship.

Dean of Students Symposium
June 19-21, 2017 | Savannah, GA
Learn best practices, share ideas with colleagues in your role, and leave with tools to help you in your work. More information coming soon!

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Survey Center
SAIS offers a variety of value narrative surveys to its member schools.

Click here for more information.

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