January 19, 2023
“Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and MOST of all, love of what you are doing.” -Pelé
The recent passing of Pelé was felt around the world. He was a remarkable athlete and is partially responsible for the rise in interest and participation in soccer in the United States. He was a role model, politician, businessman, and ambassador for UNESCO and the United Nations. He was also very committed and passionate about what he valued most, including ongoing growth and improvement.
At MPA, like Pelé, we strive for excellence at all times. Our dedicated faculty and staff work extremely hard each and every day, truly know their students, and are passionate about their academic, social, and emotional growth. We celebrate our successes, build upon our strengths, and strive for excellence. We are also willing to face the hard truth when we fail to meet expectations. The Net Promoter Survey, administered last month, is one of the ways we seek to engage parents and listen to their constructive criticism and take note of their commendations.
Approximately 78% of MPA families participated in the survey this year (although the numbers are skewed a bit because families were invited to take it several times if they had students in multiple divisions). According to the Net Promoter methodology, survey respondents are grouped into one of three categories: detractor, passive, or promoter. The breakdown for MPA is as follows:
- Fifty-nine parents, or 16% of the survey responses, gave a score between zero and six and are considered “Detractors” or unhappy customers.
- Ninety-five parents, or 26% of the survey responses, gave a score of seven or eight and are considered “Passives” or satisfied but unenthusiastic customers.
- Two hundred and eight parents, or 57% of the survey responses, gave a score of nine or 10 and are considered “Promoters” or loyal enthusiasts.
Subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters yields the Net Promoter Score, which can range from a low of -100 (if every customer is a Detractor) to a high of 100 (if every customer is a Promoter). The MPA score for 2022 is 41. To put that in context, SurveyMonkey reports an average score of 32 across industries.
The results of the survey are both humbling and inspiring, motivating all of us to continue to work diligently to live up to our mission, to the expectations of our parents, and to the needs of our students. At the same time, I spend a great deal of time reflecting on the feedback from those who are less than satisfied. I am fully cognizant that there are times and instances when we are not our best, not serving our parents or students particularly well, and/or not meeting our own high standards. I am also cognizant that philosophies might not always be in alignment and there are things that our mission implores us to do that not everyone supports. Finally, I am cognizant that not everything is under our control.
Several common perceptions emerged from those who scored MPA between zero and six, the Detractors and Passives, including:
- lack of affordability;
- academic rigor that is too high or too low;
- lack of academic support;
- degree of teacher turnover;
- unnecessary focus on DEIB—specifically related to race and gender;
- post-COVID shifts in student behavior; and
- breadth vs depth of Upper School course offerings.
I firmly believe in the saying that “if you are making everyone happy, you are not doing your job.” With more than 450 families, 586 students, and over 120 employees, it is impossible to make everyone happy. Schools are very complex, with a wide-ranging assortment of hopes and expectations. There is bound to be disagreement, disapproval, and constructive criticism.
At the same time, an institution must be open and welcoming of feedback and differing perceptions and experiences. One of my favorite books is “Humility is the New Smart” by Edward D. Hess and Katherine Ludwig. In the book, the authors posit that “smart” leaders and institutions practice humility—be genuinely engaged with others, be open-minded, and be less defensive in order to appreciate multiple perspectives.
If you are familiar with the Net Promoter Survey, you know that is commonly used in business to measure customer service. Similarly, MPA uses the Net Promoter Survey to measure parent satisfaction and solicit feedback for use in continuous improvement in order to make data-driven decisions. The survey and score are also important because word of mouth referrals are the most important way that new families come to MPA.
More than 250 parents took the time to share their perceptions of what the school does very well through the open-ended response section of the survey. Common themes emerged here as well and included:
- a thoughtful and intentional curriculum;
- creating a safe environment to make mistakes;
- excellent teachers who spark intellectual curiosity;
- adults who make each child feel worthy and important;
- frequent and transparent communication; and
- encouraging critical thinking.
One parent wrote, “They know my son as a student and as an individual. They know what motivates him and when he is struggling. The adults in the building have it as part of their mission that every student has a positive and influential relationship with an adult, and they do that exceedingly well.”
Be assured that MPA will remain steadfast in our commitment to continuous improvement. I am not content to rest on our laurels nor satisfied with the status quo. As an institution and individuals, we must model for our young people that we value diverse perspectives and feedback and are committed to improvement and growth. Together with the entire administrative team, we take your feedback to heart and are working to identify both immediate improvements and long-term initiatives.
The relationship between families and our school is more than a simple transaction. It is transformational, a partnership between all members of the community with a common goal and shared vision: to empower our students to live, learn, and thrive in today’s complex global society. I look forward to continuing to partner with you along that journey.