5 Tips for Staying Competitive in the K-12 Market

July 6, 2016 Kristen Hicks

Parents want the best for their kids, and often that means holding the K-12 schools they choose to very high standards. The education a child receives in those early years can play a big role in their college options and the job options they have beyond. If parents are going to put that much trust in you, they want to be confident you can meet their expectations.

That makes it your job to do everything in your power to make your school both attractive to parents and effective for students.

What Parents Look for in a School

The Thomas Fordham Institute studied what parents want in a K-12 school and found that, while there’s some variety in what different types of parents valued most, the results were fairly predictable.

Among the things parents said they cared most about were:

  • Strong reading and math education
  • Strong STEM education
  • An emphasis on teaching self-discipline, study habits, and critical thinking
  • High standards for academics and behavior
  • Use of technology
  • Level of college preparedness

Not all parents are the same, but the study found enough overlap in what different parents value for K-12 administrators to have some clear takeaways.

5 Ways to Stay Competitive

Providing a good education is crucial, but so is knowing what to highlight in your marketing so that parents understand you value the right things. Here are a few steps to take (and emphasize in your marketing materials) to stay competitive in an increasingly tough space.

  1. Hire good teachers.

You already know valuing teachers is important. We don’t have to tell you that, but we’d be remiss not to include it on this list. One of the most important things you can do to provide your students with a top-notch education and impress parents is to hire high-caliber teachers.

Whether that’s teachers with lots of experience, teachers with new ideas and a willingness to explore, or teachers from different backgrounds from your students so they can learn more about the world—look for teachers with something special to offer your students.

Then work to make those teachers happy. What they have to offer is only one part of the equation; make sure you give them every reason to want to stay with your school and give it their all.

2. Encourage a strong community among students and parents.

The educational aspect of a K-12 school is important, but the culture also plays a key role in the experience parents have. Encourage parents to get involved. Schedule meetings and organize clubs so that students and parents alike have extracurricular activities that give them a chance to learn new things and become a part of the larger school community.

Parents and students who feel like they’re a part of something will be that much more loyal to the school and happier with their experiences. And they’ll be more inclined to recommend you to friends, which is one of the best ways to build a reputation and attract more students.

3. Highlight college acceptance rates.

At the end of the day, this is the goal many of those students (and their parents) will be working toward. Will your school help them get into college? Just as importantly, will it help them get into a good college?

If you’re doing everything else right, your college acceptance rates should be high, so make that clear in your marketing. If many of your students end up at their top-choice schools, then let parents know that too.

4. Consider faculty-to-student ratio.

One of the big factors driving parents to seek new schools for their kids is overcrowded classes. Smaller class sizes have been proven to get better results to the tune of higher test scores, better attendance rates, and better grades.

Parents want to trust that their kids will get personal attention. They want to enjoy all the benefits that come with a personalized focus and a smaller classroom.

5.    Incorporate technology that aids in learning.

Finally, one of the factors parents in the Fordham Institute study mentioned was the use of technology. Technology in school can help students better prepare for a world in which tech is a part of many jobs and just about a requirement for many aspects of adulthood.    

When used effectively, education technology can help teachers better track how students are performing throughout the course of the school year and provide more useful feedback to individual students. Why not use every tool at your disposal to provide your students with a better education?

Investing in technology also shows prospective families that you’re willing to keep up with the modern needs of education. Students must be computer- (and tablet- and smartphone-) literate today if they want to take advantage of all the opportunities available.

Your top priority should always be to provide the best education possible to your students. Luckily, almost everything that makes for good marketing to parents doubles as something that’s good for your students too. Don’t hesitate to let prospective parents know the good work you’re doing by highlighting it in your marketing.


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