Students in Defense Department schools — and their parents and teachers — have the opportunity to grade the quality of education in their schools via an online survey.

All parents of students enrolled at DoD schools, from pre-kindergarten or SureStart through grade 12, may participate in theonline survey, which takes about 20 minutes and closes April 30. They're asked to complete a single survey based on the experiences of their oldest child, Department of Defense Educational Activity officials said.

Students in grades 4 through 12 may take the survey themselves. It's also open to teachers and support staff.

The survey is anonymous and voluntary, but officials encourage everyone to participate. In a letter to survey participants on the survey site, DoDEA director Thomas Brady calls their voices "critical."

"We want to know how successful you think we have been in meeting your needs this year and are very interested in learning those areas in which you believe we have room for improvement," Brady says in the letter.

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He also encouraged students, parents and staff to participate in a recent news release, saying a high rate of response "provides our schools with valuable information about their programs and is part of our continual efforts to improve the quality of education provided to students of military and civilian families."

Questions cover nine broad areas: academic, technology, communication/environment, sense of belonging, caring relationships, well-being, school safety, overall satisfaction, and college/career readiness in high school.

DoDEA operates 168 schools with 73,000 students in eight districts located in 11 foreign countries, seven states, Guam and Puerto Rico.

Karen Jowers writes about military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times. She can be reached at