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4 Reasons School Districts Use PlaceSpeak for Parent Engagement


It is known in the education community that parent engagement is one of the single most important factors in helping students succeed in school. Parents, families, and other caring adults provide the primary educational environment for children.

The challenge for school officials is often, “How can we engage parents effectively, consistently and cost-effectively over extended periods of time?” While in-person interaction is an essential component to engagement, a greater number of schools boards are seeing the benefits of PlaceSpeak for building geo-verified, online parent engagement. Here we look at 4 of the most common reasons school boards select PlaceSpeak.

1. Know that you’re engaging relevant parents and receive location-based feedback

Many contentious issues facing school districts are location-based, such as changing school boundaries, closing schools, or school policy changes. It is especially important to ensure that public consultation participants are located within a specific catchment area so that decision-makers can hear from relevant parties — that is, residents and families actually living within the affected area.

With PlaceSpeak’s unique location-based geo-verification process, users must verify their address and authenticate their identity in order to participate in public consultations. School districts can then be confident that feedback is coming from families residing within the catchment area, and not people outside of the community who may not be impacted at all. This allows school districts to collect legitimate, verifiable feedback to support evidence-based decision making.

For example, the Surrey School District asked parents in specific geographic areas for their feedback concerning proposed school boundary changes. Through this targeted approach, they gathered 65 relevant comments from parents and families.

2. Respectful and trust-building environment for discussion and debate

When signing up for PlaceSpeak, people must authenticate themselves by providing their real names and addresses. This ensures that consultation participants are who they say they are, and ensures that they live within the affected area. There are well-documented examples of consultations gone wrong when participants are not verified.

In addition, this critical step reduces the likelihood of Internet trolls and spammers, facilitating a respectful, mature and trusting environment for parents to discuss, debate, and engage with the school district.

At the same time, PlaceSpeak acknowledges that there are contentious topics which may result in conflict within the community. PlaceSpeak users can choose not to have their name shown publicly on discussion boards. It’s a win-win situation: parents and families can speak their mind on sensitive issues, while the school district can still be certain that the data collected is legitimate and can be contextualized to place.

Naturally, when it comes to the provision of such personal information, privacy is key. As a Privacy by Design Ambassador, PlaceSpeak takes the privacy of its users extremely seriously. Personal information is never sold, exchanged, transferred, or given to any other company for any reason. Additionally, PlaceSpeak does not share any information about our users with advertisers or third parties. This further adds to the environment of trust that PlaceSpeak facilitates.

3. Wide range of tools for collecting quantitative and qualitative feedback

Different issues will require different methods of engagement. PlaceSpeak has a suite of features which allow school districts to collect quantitative and qualitative feedback, including polls, surveys, discussion boards, and interactive mapping.

These features can also be used in combination to gather robust data to support evidence-based decision-making.

4. Supporting ongoing engagement with parents and families

PlaceSpeak provides a platform where parents can engage on multiple issues easily. Additionally, as consultations are available online 24/7, busy parents and families can participate in their own time instead of having to show up to public meetings.

As parents and families sign up on PlaceSpeak to participate in consultations, school districts can easily re-engage with a growing base of residents. Upon starting each consultation, there is the option to notify all users in the affected area. With each subsequent consultation it becomes quicker and more cost-effective to reach and engage with a larger number of people.

Comox parent engagement

School districts can also easily host multiple topics at the same time and grow their base of engaged parents and families by “cross-pollinating” the topics. For example, a parent who participated on a topic regarding a school closure may also be interested in giving feedback about classroom sizes.

In the example above, the Comox Valley School District hosted five consultations over the course of three months, building a network of hundreds of engaged parents and families who can be easily accessed for future consultations.

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To get started with your online public consultation, visit placespeak.com.

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