The Textizen Blog

JUL 30 2013

Citizens Guide Chicago Public School Improvements

We helped Chicago Public Schools (CPS) plan facility and service improvements with two city-wide surveys from March through April. Our surveys’ attention-grabbing posters appeared in local trains and buses thanks to a partnership with the Chicago Transit Authority. Over 2,000 people participated in the surveys and, even though they’re officially over, eager citizens still send input our way.

Citizens Love the Flexibility of Our Surveys

The conversational nature and efficient build of our surveys makes finishing them easy and quick. How quick? A five-question survey takes about two and a half minutes. In other words, you could finish a five-question survey before your fast food order is ready1, two surveys before you receive your morning latte2, and 14 surveys during your commute to work3. Our surveys can be done so quickly that you’ll still have time to twiddle your thumbs.

Ease and efficiency keep our survey completion rates higher than online and paper survey rates4. As an added bonus, our electronic polls completely cut out the cost of printed ballots and the labor time needed to canvass the entire city.

Responses Distribute Evenly Throughout the City

Textizen provides citizens the means to speak out and collaboratively overcome socio-economic barriers. Mapping CPS survey responses by ZIP code illustrates that participation is spread throughout the city. Going a step further and weighting response distribution against population distribution per ZIP code indicates that response rates correlate with the population size of ZIP codes.

Over 98% Unique Participants in Chicago

Sound government decisions grow out of citizen diversity and the voices they bring to the table. City planning meetings tend to attract the outspoken and can skew the government’s perception of public opinion. Our polls not only evenly gather the opinions of people from throughout cities, they provide for minimal overlap of participants. The resulting high unique count creates data sets that are more representative of the people as a whole.

We keep participant data strictly anonymous so it is unclear how many survey respondents also attend city hall or town planning meetings. Still, looking purely at our CPS survey data, only two percent of all respondents took part in both surveys. In other words, the remaining 98 percent provided unique perspectives or approximately 49 out of 50 surveys were done by first-time Textizen users.

Survey Data Helps Move CPS Forward

Our surveys provided CPS the initial step towards bridging the gap of trust and collaboration with citizens. The CPS Draft 10-Year Educational Facilities Master Plan5 used the surveys as part of the community engagement process.

Poll results show a clear preference for technology upgrades. Knowing more about what the people want provides a great jumping off point for CPS to enter into dialogue that better serves individual communities.

Community meetings can now begin with more information on the table, both from the government and from citizens. We’re excited to see where the data takes CPS and the many avenues of communication that it will open for the people. Citizens should know that they can make a difference and we want to provide the tools to further empower them.


  1. The time it takes for four out of five fast food restaurants to prepare and serve drive-through food is longer than the median amount of time it takes for respondents to complete a CPS poll.
  2. It takes approximately five minutes for Starbucks to prepare and serve a cup of coffee.
  3. The average commute time in Chicago is approximately 35 minutes.
  4. Online surveys have a response rate of 33% while paper surveys have a response rate of 56%.
  5. A copy of the Chicago Public Schools Draft 10-Year Educational Facilities Master Plan can be found here.