10 ways to spot families who may leave your district

Less satisfied parents contacted their district an average of two fives times during the first 30 days of the school year

When it comes to parent satisfaction, those who most frequently contact school leaders are among the families who are also the most likely to switch districts, a new analysis finds.

There is a direct connection between satisfaction, communication quality, and the likelihood of a family choosing an educational alternative, according to a survey of more than 2,700 parents included in K12 Insight’s National Report on the Impact of Parent Satisfaction on School Districts.

“Families have so many educational options, and now more than ever education leaders need a reliable way to identify the families who are thinking about leaving their school district before it’s too late,” said Krista Coleman, chief customer officer at K12 Insight, a company that helps districts collect customer feedback. “Our latest report goes beyond the surface of parent satisfaction and digs deeper into parents’ perceptions and behaviors that could be considered early indicators of student attrition.”

The analysis uses a measurement called the “Net Promoter Score,” which rates how likely a parent or guardian is to recommend a school or district to other families. Families at the lower end of the parent satisfaction scale, known as “detractors,” are four times more likely to consider switching schools than other parents, including those who are considered “passives” because report being satisfied, but not enough to actively promote a school or district.

The most satisfied parents are called “promoters.” Here are some more details on that group and on parents who are designated as detractors and passives to help administrators spot students who may be thinking about changing schools:


  • Detractors aren’t satisfied with the district’s communications efforts. Only a third of these families say they are “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with district communication while 24% say they are “dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied.”
  • Detractors don’t know who to contact for answers: Only 23% said they can consistently identify and reach the district staff member who can help them resolve a concern.
  • Detractors contacted their district an average of two fives times during the first 30 days of the school year, and a similar amount of times during the summer.
  • Less than 20% trust their district while 32% say they “distrust” their district.


  • “Passives” are not weighing their educational options. Only about 15% of these families are considering switching schools compared to 38% of detractors.
  • Passive families say they feel well-informed, with a large majority saying district information is often easy to understand.
  • Passives contacted their district only once since the beginning of the school year.


  • Nearly 90% said their interactions with school staff were both courteous and timely.
  • Promoters contacted their districts at similar rates to detractors.
  • Students from promoters’ families are “low flight risks.” Promoters are the “Goldilocks families”—nearly 90% of them say they receive “just enough” communication from the district.

“The silver lining is the families who are thinking about leaving are communicating with their districts frequently,” Coleman said. “During a time when competition is at an all-time high, these insights can be powerful and equip education leaders with deeper knowledge about the families who are thinking about leaving their district.”

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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