At Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools, feedback from staff, parents, students and our community is a critical part of our continuous improvement efforts. Our annual stakeholder survey responses help to identify strengths and set goals for areas in need of improvement at both the district and individual school levels.

While this school year has been anything but typical and has presented all of us with challenges, surveys remain important so that stakeholders can have their voices heard. That input is especially valuable this year as we look at the lessons learned during the pandemic and how we move forward to plan for next school year.

Now in our fifth year of conducting our annual staff, parent and student surveys, we have been able to track our results to compare how we are doing over time. This year we also included questions surrounding the pandemic and we conducted 20 focus groups in an effort to gain more detailed feedback than a survey can provide.

Through our surveys we have learned that our students continue to feel safe and connected in school, parents indicate their child is supported academically and staff continue to be proud to be associated with PLSAS and its brand. Also notable is an increase in secondary students reporting that their teachers know how to teach so that they can learn. Eighty percent of students in grades 6-12 agreed with this statement last school year and that opinion jumped to 92 percent this school year. This speaks to the exceptionally high quality of teachers we have, the flexibility that they have displayed and the ways they were able to innovate and personalize learning; adapting through multiple learning modes throughout the pandemic.

While there is much to celebrate, survey results show us there are also areas to focus on for next school year. We know parents are concerned about their child’s education because of the pandemic; both parents and older children expressed challenges surrounding students’ ability to stay connected to friend groups this past year, and staff expressed a need for continued professional development surrounding personalized learning for students. In addition, staff and families responded to the social and emotional well-being of children, indicating extra support is needed for students.

Here are just a few highlights from this year’s surveys:

Student surveys (grades 3-12)

  • 95% of elementary students and 88% of secondary students feel safe and secure in school.
  • 95% of elementary students and 82% of secondary students feel connected to at least one adult at their school.
  • 93% of elementary and 87% of secondary students report that their teachers help them feel included in the classroom.
  • 83% of elementary students and 71% of secondary students stayed connected to their friend group over the past year.

Parent survey

  • 93% of parents said adults/teachers believe my child can learn and be successful.
  • 91% of parents report that school administration is accessible.
  • 85% of parents said they believe their child is challenged academically.
  • 83% of parents said that teachers are available and provide assistance to their children when needed.

Staff survey

  • 91% of staff said they are proud to be associated with PLSAS and its brand.
  • 90% of staff report a high-functioning collaborative working relationship with their colleagues.
  • 89% of staff report that they work in an environment that respects diversity and is discrimination free.
  • 88% of staff report that they work in an environment that supports innovative ideas and practices.

Moving forward, we will continue to study all survey results by district, school, program and department levels to use for continuous improvement efforts as well as leadership development and improvement.

These surveys align with our strategic plan that calls for us to engage students, parents, families and community to strengthen a culture of respect and inclusion. For complete results of all surveys, visit our website:

We are also in the process of conducting a community phone survey to gauge the satisfaction level of district residents. Results will be presented to the School Board June 14.

Please know how much we appreciate those who took the time to take our survey. We value your input as an important part of the improvement process.

Dr. Teri Staloch is the superintendent of Prior Lake-Savage Area Schools.