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A Field Guide to Survey Design


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An Introduction to Surveys

Surveys are used to collect information about populations of people that cannot be easily observed, such as attitudes, concepts, and behavior. Due to the un-observable nature of the information that surveys collect, survey designers must take steps to ensure surveys collect information that is accurate, reliable, and representative of the target population. The survey development process requires five key steps:

  1. Designing the Survey Process
  2. Developing the Survey Questions
  3. Testing the Survey Questions
  4. Collecting Data
  5. Analyzing Data

Developing surveys using this five step process is both an art and a science. This field guide will provide you with an overview of best practices for developing high quality surveys.

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CT Viewpoints: Connecticut must continue push toward education equity

With the new Every Child Succeeds Act, states will have more flexibility to determine policies on accountability and intervention in our lowest performing schools. Our six organizations join together to urge Connecticut’s leaders to use this flexibility to build upon and accelerate the progress that is already underway in our schools.

Read the full opinion here. School Report Shows Dip in Math Scores for Kansas Students

Tonya Becker

These tests allow educators to compare educational knowledge of students nationally, because unlike state-specific tests, the National Assessment of Education Progress uses the same test questions and same proficiency scores in every state.

North Dakota’s scores remain above the national averages. California’s average eight grade math score was higher than that of five states and Washington, D.C. and about the same as nine states.

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said change takes time.

Read the full article here.

WNPR: Connecticut’s NAEP Scores Flatten, Worse in Fourth Grade Math

By David Desroches


The renewed focus on testing has been heavily criticized by some parents and many teachers. The Connecticut Education Association, which is the state’s largest teachers union, issued a statement after the NAEP scores were released, urging these scores to be viewed as the result of flawed policy.

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said change takes time.

“We are working to raise academic standards, use data from a new state assessment, and develop a system for providing professional development to our educators,” Villar said in a statement. “These aren’t the types of changes that happen overnight, so we can’t expect scores to improve immediately.”

Read the full piece here.

CT Mirror Op Ed: Don’t Write Off Impoverished Kids

Check out Jeffrey’s response to a recent OpEd that predicted parents will react to low assessment scores by rebelling against testing and efforts to improve schools… We know the truth: that parents aren’t going to protect a system that is failing their own children!

This latest round of test results simply reinforces the fact that we need to change our educational system if we want to improve student learning. A student’s address does not need to define his or her future. And that’s not a truth that is hard for parents to get behind.

I became an educator because, as a child, I saw firsthand that my circumstances weren’t my destiny. Growing up, I watched my father, a Cuban immigrant, work to provide for his family. Self-employed with no medical insurance, no paid vacation, no sick days, he returned to work just days after being injured in a terrible accident because our bills wouldn’t get paid if he didn’t work. At the same time, I watched my mother return to school after having dropped out to raise three children. She eventually became the principal of a school. Through hard work and education, they proved that you can make something of yourself no matter where you come from. It is upon this foundation that they created the luxury of opportunity for me, sending me to college and setting me up to earn advanced degrees. They exemplified what this country is all about.

The education system can’t just write off tens of thousands of children for being poor or for having extra needs.

Read the full piece here.

EducationBridgeport: My, That’s a Very Convincing Straw Man – or Why Superintendent Scarice’s Commentary on Testing is Bogus

Here’s a challenge for Madison Superintendent Thomas Scarice: Find me the activist or politician who thinks a student’s ability to answer academic questions correctly on a test can accurately describe the entire meaning and value of that student’s life?

That’s essentially what Scarice is accusing the “educational community” of doing in his recent Op-Ed for the Connecticut Mirror.

Scarice would be hard-pressed to find an education reform advocate who’d argue against the importance of context.

While on a WNPR panel back in March discussing the new Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform Jeffrey Villar told reporter John Dankosky, “I agree, numbers do not tell the whole story. Numbers are actually the beginning of the conversation.”

Is your mind blown yet?

Read the full story here.


CT Mirror Op Ed: Gov. Malloy’s wise veto of the education commissioner bill

By Ramani Ayer

If you aim to limit the amount of innovation that can happen in the public education arena, one surefire method would be to keep it an insider’s game…

It would be inappropriate to make the qualifications for the role of commissioner too narrow because they necessarily shift, depending on the shifting needs of our state. True, we ideally want a candidate who understands teaching and the administration of public education.

But we also want a candidate who has legal and political expertise. Do we therefore add a legislative requirement that the commissioner have a J.D.? At times, it will be very important for the commissioner to have experience with public communications. Do we then add a requirement of a communications degree? Commissioners will sometimes need to address school funding issues. Should we require that Commissioners have an MBA? Of course not.

Read the full opinion here.



Education Bridgeport–Teachers Union Doubles Down on Inflammatory Allegations

It appears one inflammatory allegation wasn’t enough for the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) which, on Friday, doubled-down on claims against the non-profit education advocacy group Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)…

This supposed release of ‘personally identifiable’ data was simply a desperate effort to convince the legislature to pass HB 7017, a bill that would restrict how contractors use and obtains student data. Taking pot shots at CCER was just icing on the cake.

If that wasn’t enough, on Friday CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg told NBC Connecticut that CCER was ‘capable’ of selling student data – an interesting allegation considering that the CEA linked to the Memorandum of Understanding between Hamden Public Schools and CCER in both their press releases on this matter.

Read the full story here.

WNPR–Connecticut Teachers Union Spars With Reform Group Over Student Data Access

By David Desroches

A controversy has erupted between the state’s largest teachers union and an education reform group over student privacy.

The Connecticut Education Association claims that Hamden Public Schools gave an education reform group school data that risks exposing personal information about students…

This comes as CEA is advocating for legislative action on a bill concerning student data privacy. The CEA is also trying to limit the sharing of information on teachers.

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the non-profit, said the accusations by the teachers’ union are ‘irresponsible’ and ‘inflammatory.’

‘The work that we’re doing with Hamden is a partnership, we’ve actually completed it weeks ago, so the timing of all this is questionable as well,’ Villar said.

With the legislative session wrapping up, the union leader said he wants the information out to help lawmakers act on a pending privacy bill.

Read the full story here.

West Hartford News: Teachers’ union pans state’s new tests

By Christine Stuart

HARTFORD >> The first year of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing isn’t completed, but the state’s largest teachers union is asking state lawmakers to study its continued use as a statewide assessment…

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said that he can’t understand the concerns being leveled against the SBAC test.

‘The SBAC takes students the same amount of time to complete as the CMT (Connecticut Mastery Test), but provides higher-quality data that is comparable across states,’ Villar said.

He added: ‘The fight against SBAC is nothing more than a backlash against accountability. It’s a movement that seeks to maintain the status quo, rather than making informed decisions about what students actually need from their schools.’

Read the full story here.