Survey Systems Blog

Jackie Jones

Recent Posts

Magenta® for OMR Form Design

Posted by Jackie Jones on Apr 10, 2014 11:42:00 AM

Image Scan vs. OMR Scan Technology

In the past, I have touted the value of the Concord® software by Data Blocks as a cost effective and easy-to-use tool for creating and scanning surveys or questionnaires. It is a great tool for creating image scan documents. However, image scanning may not always meet the needs of your data collection project. Image scanning is cost effective for smaller projects where limited amounts of data are required. The design requirements for image scanning (such as 1/4” between bubbles and 3/8” between any bubble and text) limits the number of questions that can fit onto a page.  

If the survey or questionnaire has a lot of questions or information fields, OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) scanning is a more desirable format to use. OMR format allows for more content (questions) on a single sheet, reducing the printing costs and increasing the speed of data capture. OMR scanning uses timing marks along the side of the form to identify the position of response bubbles. 

Magenta software, Scantron form design


The form design must be very precise because if a timing mark and a response bubble don’t align properly, the response will not be recorded. This is why form design is so critical in the OMR process. Great news:

Magenta Software, Scantron form design software

Magenta® for OMR Form Creation

Data Blocks has a great tool for creating the OMR scannable forms: Magenta. In Magenta, the EZ Form Design Wizard adds the timing marks, links the required fields, and adds the response bubbles for you. It is very intuitive software—takes the work out of forms design, because it does the work for you! Magenta knows all of the rules and standards, and applies them as you create your form. Questions can be either entered directly into the Wizard, or cut and pasted from other word processing programs (uses real Windows” commands). Editing is just as easy, for example, if you find that questions have not been entered in the order desired, simply click and drag the questions to the appropriate place—that easy! Or, using the control button and the arrows, items can be moved a pixel at a time to the desired position. Magenta even automatically numbers the questions for you! It’s so easy. Within a very short time, you can have a very professional looking OMR form ready for printing. These forms can then be printed on a laser printer. Using the Magenta software, your survey/questionnaire can be ready to distribute within a day, rather than weeks.

 This tutorial video shows how EZ it is!

The Magenta software is integrated with Remark® Classic OMR scanning/reporting/scoring software. After the form design is completed and saved, a scanning template can be generated in Magenta for the Remark Classic. If you have not done so, verify that the output order is in the order that you want. You are now ready to scan the completed surveys or questionnaires and collect your data. The Remark software offers a number of report formats to present your data; and the ability to import the data to various other programs (Excel, Access, SPSS, etc.) to create your own reports. The Magenta Suite (which includes the Remark Office OMR software) is a very user-friendly tool for your data collection project.

Organizations looking to design and/or print their data collection forms in house should consider the Magenta Suite. Click the button below to download a free demonstration copy of Magenta. You will be amazed at how easy it is to create your own scannable forms!


Download Magenta Demo



Topics: scantron form, survey form, omr scanner, form design software

Bullying—Everybody loses!

Posted by Jackie Jones on Oct 25, 2013 2:37:00 PM

Bullying QuestionnaireBullying—we all talk about it, what it is, why we need to assess it, how to stop it, how to prevent it, etc. We all know why we need to stop it—our kids deserve to feel safe—in school, in our community, etc. “Bullying impacts the school and the community.” I have made that statement before, as I am sure many others have. But, seldom have I taken the time to think that statement through. Granted, bullying impacts the child, (the victim), other children (the by-standers) and of course, the bully and his/her followers; but the school or the community?

Impact on Schools

Bullying impacts schools in a number of ways— discipline problems, increased suspensions, truancy, all resulting in increased costs and missed goals. The school climate survey is a very important tool to start determining how these aspects truly impact each individual school, and its students. 

  • The bully is capable of disrupting the entire classroom, wasting the time of the entire class as well, until the teacher gets things under control again. If this goes on, educational goals for that class may be missed. In addition to the time lost reining the class back under control, it is difficult to learn/concentrate “when you are scared.”

  • The bully/victim may continue outside of the classroom, requiring disciplinary action, which adds to the staff time required.  Often the victim, as well as the bully, is disciplined, leaving the victim feeling unfairly treated as well as unsafe in school. 

  • If suspensions, whether in school or out of school, are a part of the disciplinary actions, students are now missing classes-educational opportunities- and falling behind the rest of the class. The results are negative all the way around—the student faltering or failing and the school missing academic ratings because of students’ not meeting minimum requirements.

  • Truancy increases for a number of reasons—victims feel unsafe, so simply don’t show up; suspensions have caused student (bully or victim) to be behind, so they skip, and students who are not the bully or the victim feel unsafe or uncomfortable and skip as well. For some students, the poor attendance leads to poor academic performance, which eventually leads to dropping out of school completely.

  • School district costs are increased on several levels: it is more expensive to educate truant students; disciplinary costs are increased; but most of all, funding (which is based on attendance) is lost. In the United States, the average attendance per day is less than 80%! One in five students is missing school on any given day! Since funding is based on attendance, this correlates to a lot of funding lost in absenteeism! Statistics vary, indicating anywhere from 8% of all middle school absences to 58% of the higher grade absences are the result of bullying. (Younger students are less likely to be truant because they have less opportunity to “skip;” they have more supervision, and are normally dropped off and picked up at school.)  Therefore, no matter what the actual statistic is, stopping bullying and thereby eliminating the portion of truancy that is a direct result of bullying would have a positive impact on school finances. 

Impact on Community

The impact on the community can be similar, also negative.

  • Bullying causes truancy to increase. Truants may be additional customers to businesses, or they may be shoplifters. Keeping kids in school, keeps them off the street—reducing the opportunity for juvenile crime, therefore reducing juvenile crime. Juvenile crime adds to law enforcement costs, court costs, and business loss. Two thirds of the boys that bullied in school had three or more criminal convictions by age 24. 

  • In addition to the increased tendency of the bully and victims being truant, the "by-standers of bullying" are also more inclined to skip school. It has been said that 95% of school success is just showing up; and it is a fact, that if a student is not in school, he/she is not learning. A community needs an educated work force for its businesses.  In addition, businesses tend to be more successful if they have a well-educated customer base.

  • As stated above, truancy leads to dropping out; studies have proven that high school dropouts have lower earning potential, higher unemployment, poorer health and are more likely to be incarcerated. All of which also have a negative economic impact on the community.

Start in School

School is the primary place to start to measure and correct the bullying problem. This is not to say that bullying is only the school’s problem—it is a parental problem, it is an educational problem, it is a community problem, it is a workforce problem. But, we need to start somewhere. A school climate survey (or bully survey) is a good place to start.  Meaningful, proactive school reform/changes need to be defined from the results of the school climate survey (or an bully survey). Attention needs to be directed to the results of the survey—address the specifics issues of your school and community.  

Each and every one of us can no longer say “bullying does not affect me,” or “my children are not involved in or impacted by bullying”—everyone is affected in one way or another.

Bullying Prevention Survey



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Topics: bullying questionnaire, School climate surveys, bullying surveys

National Customer Service Week--Are your Internal Customers Happy?

Posted by Jackie Jones on Oct 7, 2013 10:54:00 AM


customer satisfaction

October 7 through October 11 is National Customer Service Week—a week dedicated to boosting morale, awarding the “front line” service representatives, educating “the rest of the company” on the importance of customer service, and thanking “other departments” for their contributions and ongoing support, and, of course, letting (external) customers know how important they are. A lot to do in a week—and too bad we only spend a week doing it!  

Most employees can readily recite the company's customer related goals and objectives—but do they live them? The phrase “a happy employee means a happy customer” comes to mind. An executive I once had the pleasure of working with, and working for, always said that— “if I keep my employees happy, they will keep our customers happy.”  And, he was right. It was a service company, and a unhappy employee was exposed to many customers every day—unhappy turned to rude which could very quickly equate to lost business.


Happy Employees=Happy Customers

How happy are your employees? Are you sure? When was the last time an employee satisfaction survey was done? Asking an employee face to face does not necessarily provide the same information that a confidential employee survey would. Employees may feel uneasy or even threatened truthfully answering questions with a potentially negative response when asked face to face. But when they are allowed to answer anonymously, they find the courage to say what they are really feeling. Another vice president I once worked for was always confident that morale was high, and employees were happy—the total opposite of the truth. But, he was sure because he walked around once a month and asked the entry level employees questions. Imagine, an entry level employee, usually at their first job, being questioned by a Sr. Vice President—most of them could barely get a nervous hello out of their mouths when he came, to say nothing of reporting their feeling of being undervalued, or that there wasn’t enough light to do their work! So, of course everything was wonderful, when indeed it was not! A confidential employee survey could provide the information needed to improve employee satisfaction which would, inturn, improve customer service to the level desired, improve productivity, reduce turnover, improve morale, etc. 

Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Employee surveys, whether paper or on-line should not be voluntary. A random group of employees should be selected, (or the entire work force), to assure a good sampling of results. If done on a voluntary basis, only the very happy and the very disgruntled may respond, skewing the results. 

Employee satisfaction surveys should include some generic employee satisfaction questions, some questions specific to your company, as well as questions that might be considered your corporate weakness questions, or questions targeting issues that may exist within the corporation. Extreme care should be taken in the wording of the questions to assure that the questions are not biased or leading, or misleading, or even viewed by the employee as “trick” questions. Virtually all of the questions can be linkert style questions with ranking values. This type of survey can be easily created as a scannable paper survey form, or an on-line survey.  Results can be reported in a number of forms/programs, and easily tracked and compared year after year.

The survey should also include one or two free form questions or ask for comments, to be sure that all employee concerns are addressed.

Share the Results

Once the survey results are received, it is important that the information be shared with the participants or employee population for the following reasons:

  • Increased trust - The employees know that management is not trying to hide something; and are willing to address the issues.

  • Insure future participation - If the employees feel that their voice is being heard, they will be more likely to participate in the future.  If they feel that the survey results are not valued, they will not “waste their time” in the future.

  • Added accountability - Publishing the results will require addressing or responding to the issues. Employees will know that someone is assigned to work on those issues that can be “fixed.”

Employee satisfaction surveys should actually be done about once a year. This will allow comparison of results, the ability to measure the success of any programs implemented or changes that were made as a result of information from the previous survey.

An employee satisfaction survey that is confidential, not too lengthy and easy to complete can garner a lot of information that could ultimately be critical to the success of the branch or corporation. Employee attitudes impact the entire gambit of a business and spill over to the customer base on an ongoing basis. If your organization does not currently conduct employee satisfaction surveys, National Customer Service Week might be a good time to start the process. It really is true—HAPPY EMPLOYEES DO MAKE FOR HAPPY CUSTOMERS!


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Topics: Employee survey, paper survey, employee satisfaction survey, web survey


Posted by Jackie Jones on Sep 30, 2013 4:12:00 PM

October is National Bully Prevention Month.
 What started as a week long “Pacer Kids Against Bullying” in 2006 was expanded to a month, National Bully Prevention Month, in 2010. (Pacer is the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights.) In 2007, Stomp Out Bullying was created by the organization Love Our Children USA. Both Pacer Kids Against Bullying and Stomp Out Bullying are non-profit organizations created with the goal of preventing bullying--helping kids and teens deal with and stop bullying. Orange is the color for Pacer’s bully prevention program; blue is the color for Stomp Out Bullying’s bully prevention program (just as red is the color for heart disease or pink is the color for breast cancer). October 7, 2013 is World Day of Bully Prevention--Stomp Out Bullying’s day to show your support for ending bullying by wearing blue and October 9, 2013 is Unity Day—Pacer’s day to show your support for ending bullying by wearing orange, (just as February 1 was the day to wear red or October 25 will be the day to wear pink). 

Of course, one month is not enough to put a stop to bullying, let alone one day, but if schools, organizations and even communities don’t have a bullying prevention program in place, it is a good day to start one! World Day of Bully Prevention or Unity Day can be the day(s) that everyone becomes aware of what bullying behavior really is. Children associate being mean with being a bully, but may not be aware that excluding someone, or starting rumors, or nasty texts are also forms of bullying. World Day/Unity Day would be a good day to start the education process, or continue it.


The next step in starting a bully prevention program is to assess the bullying activity in your school, organization or community. You need to know if you are tackling a gnat sized problem or an elephant sized problem. The true size of the problem is often underestimated because most bullying goes unreported. In addition to learning the size of the problem, you will need to determine the trends and type of bullying that exits. This will allow you to develop an appropriate resolution plan.


The assessment should be confidential (so that the bullying will be reported), completed in a reasonable amount of time, and have easily measurable results. The best way to achieve this is with a survey. It is important that the survey is age appropriate, and addresses the areas you want to measure (for example, frequency and type of bullying, location of bullying, perception of safety, if help was requested was help given, attitudes of adults and peer groups). Scannable survey forms or scannable survey answer sheets are an effective tool for the assessment process, whether your assessment is for school climate, community environment or organizational/workplace attitudes. Scannable survey forms allow for confidentiality, can be designed to be completed quickly, and offer a variety of data reporting methods.

                                    New Call-to-Action


A school climate survey should be administered at least once a school year, preferably twice. If no program exists, a school climate survey or bullying survey can be administered early in the year—on or right after Unity Day as an assessment. It should also be administered at the end of the school year to track progress and enable program planning for the next school year. Community bullying assessment surveys can be handed out at community functions, distributed by a direct mailing, included in community magazines or stuffed in community newspapers. These could be annual or even every two years since more time will be required to allow citizens to complete the survey and return it. Workplace or organizational assessments are more easily scheduled, similar to the school assessments.

A large variety of reports are available for scannable survey forms. The information/findings should be analyzed to determine what you just found out—what does it mean?  Distribute the findings to those who will be involved in creating/implementing the bully prevention plan or program. This group should include any number of representative “stakeholders”—students, teachers, administrators; or law enforcement, neighborhood associations, mental health specialists, faith based organizations, local businesses; or representatives from every division within a company or organization.

The group then needs to:

• Create and publish an Anti-Bullying policy, if one does not exist.

• Analyze the findings, and determine how to deal with the findings.

• Report back to the larger group--those who participated in the
• Prepare and implement a plan for prevention as well as intervention.

• Educate everyone involved on the policy, the plan, and their
respective roles.

• Repeat the assessment process to verify results, track progress
and/or determine what changes are required in the plan.

Every one of us needs to be involved in building an environment where our children feel safe; a culture of tolerance, where every one belongs, and is respected as an individual, and encouraged to succeed. Recent studies echo the fact that childhood bullying is not simply a rite of passage; it has definite, long term affects on the  victims as well as the bullies. In addition to the fact that childhood bullies tend to be adult bullies, studies have shown that bullying (victims as well as bullies) have long term negative consequences on health, job prospects and relationships. Bullying in the workplace not only impacts employee productivity, creativity and quality, but often results in loss of valued employees due to the added stress and environmental dissatisfaction. Bullying in the community can have similar socio-economical impacts as it does in the workplace and in the schools, but on a larger, and at times, more dangerous scale.  

This October is a good time to reflect on what our individual responsibilities are.


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Topics: scannable surveys, School climate surveys, bullying surveys, anti-bullying survey

Forget the Game, Bully the Cheerleaders!

Posted by Jackie Jones on May 31, 2013 12:51:00 PM

A recent CBS Houston blog post about an Oklahoma Thunder cheerleader calls attention to the increasing practice of using the various interactive technologies for bullying people. We often think of bullying as something that only happens to “kids”, in school, on the bus, on the play ground etc.—certainly not something that adults would engage in! But, under the guise of the anonymity of the digital world, people are being more and more "brave" in what they will say, and about whom. Or, not even anonymously, but since no human contact, whether face to face, or voice to ear is required, comments are “bravely” (or stupidly), made in social media form that would never be made in person. Sometimes, they are admittedly made innocently-rather thoughtlessly; not meaning to hurt anyone, sometimes just stupidly; but many times intentionally, deliberately, and solely for the enjoyment of humiliating or intimidating someone else. Inadvertent or not, when others are encouraged to join in, bullying is bullying and harassment is harassment.

Cyber-bullying/Cyber-harassing or Cyber-stalking

This is a growing trend: Cyber-bullying—when the Internet or cell phones or other devices are used to send or post text or images intended to hurt, humiliate or embarrass another person.  Cyber-bullying is intended to intimidate, control, manipulate, put-down, falsely discredit or humiliate a victim. It is deliberate, repeated, or hostile and encourages exclusion. When cyber-bullying happens between adults (people over 18) it is called cyber-harassing or cyber-stalking. Cyber-harassing can threaten a victim’s employment, reputation or even safety; and often encourages harassment by others. 

The blog was a classic example of encouraging harassment by others—asking for votes on one of three choices of varying degrees of insult. There was a somewhat similar act of cyber-harassing cheerleaders this year, when an insulting comment about a Green Bay Packer’s cheerleaders (with a picture) was posted on the Chicago Bear’s Facebook fan page—encouraging fans to “like” if they agreed. The insult turned ugly, and the responses appeared to be aimed back at the only cheerleader pictured. Some comments were horrible! (One has to wonder if the person responding is really that horrible, or if he/she would have said or thought anything if not enticed by the original cyber-stalker. As with any other type of bullying or harassment, there are a number of people who will just follow along with the "cyber-leader"!)  It is so easy to use the digital tools we have to post inappropriate content, especially if someone thinks he/she is anonymous, untraceable or untouchable, or a member of a much larger “crowd”.

Positive "Bystanders" 

As unfortunate as these two examples are, in both cases, there were positive bystanders—people who didn’t buy into the negativity of the cyber-harasser. In the most recent case (the Thunder’s cheerleader), 58% of the comments received were positive toward her appearance, stating how beautiful they thought she is. A number of Chicago Bears fans also spoke out for the Packer’s cheerleader(s). It is good to see that there are people who are active bystanders rather than passive bystanders—who will stand up to a bully, rather than ignoring what’s going on. This is the example that we want to set for our children--stand up to the bully, stand up for the victim.

Kudos to the Cheerleaders

Real kudos go out to the cheerleaders as well, for the way they handled the situations! The Packers cheerleader responded with an anti-bullying YouTube video (search Kaitlyn Collins).  Four days after it was posted, the picture was taken down and replaced with a message that the Bears organization was against bullying. Several days later another posting indicated that comments were still coming in, and that comments would not be accepted, and Bears Fan bullies would blocked from the site. They have a Zero tolerance policy. 

The Thunder cheerleader who was the target of a blog insult responded very admirably in a tweet: “We wouldn’t know what blessings were if we didn’t go through trials. Thank you to everyone for the compassion and love today. I’m in awe.” Here again, through the wonders of the digital world, the blog has been edited, removing the most hurtful references.

bullying questionnaire, anti-bullying survey

Examples for Our Children

Since in both of the cases mentioned above, corrective actions were taken, one can assume that this may have been inadvertent cyber-harassment---unintentional bullying by over zealous but disappointed fans. It was, none the less, harassment (adult bullying), and should not have happened. Children learn to bully from adults, and the Internet is one of their playgrounds! As adults, we need to be more diligent in policing ourselves. I remember being taught to never say or write anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to hear/read---we also need to remember our children--they are an even more attentive audience. They are out on the Internet everyday, taking queues from misbehaving adults! It can be devastating to a person to be mocked in front of his/her peers—on the Internet it is being done in front of thousands--we need to stop it! When they see adults acting this way, it is no wonder that the "yes" response to "have you been bullied over the Internet?" on bullying questionnaires is so high. The sad part is that the number of "yes" responses to "have you ever bullied someone on the cell phone, or over the Internet" on the anti-bullying surveys is also high. Kids pay attention, and learn from adults, whether or not we think they are watching--they are!  

bullying questionnaire, anti-bullying survey, cyber-bullying

Remember the motto: STOP and THINK before you CLICK! It is up to all of us to set the examples for our children.

Topics: bullying questionnaire, bullying surveys, anti-bullying survey

Remark Software IS Remarkable

Posted by Jackie Jones on May 17, 2013 12:52:00 PM


gravic remark, concord software, scanning softwareI had the opportunity to use the Remark Office OMR software to create a scanform template, scan documents and export the data. It was great! I learn easier by doing than by reading a manual, so I just start the Remark Office OMR Template Editor, new file.   What could be easier? This opened a dialogue box that required a form name, paper size, orientation on page, etc. The paper size option was great, since I would be scanning documents from Europe, using A4 paper size. I am feeling good! And, I just click NEXT--pretty intuitive! 


Create Page Elements

The next page is the Create Page Elements page. Here Remark software asks where the image is coming from. I have a blank copy of the form—you must have a blank copy of the form, whether it’s a paper copy or an electronic copy, it must be blank (not filled out). I am going to scan the form, so I select “read from scanner”. There is a radio button after the read from scanner option for scanner properties. It’s a good idea to set your scanner properties now, as they will need to be set. The hardware properties refer to the scanner you will be using. The scan options refers to what options are needed for the survey form or answer sheet. Now, just scan the form, and click ok. Simple! 

Defining Regions

The form is on the screen, and its time to tell Remark what's what. It is as easy as that sentence makes it sound. There are icons on the toolbar for defining the various “regions” (types of data to be captured), or there is a list on the left (task pane) of the screen. There are only four options: OMR (optical mark recognition), Barcode, Image, or OCR (optical character recognition).   

To define a region, click on the icon, (I clicked OMR) then “draw a box” around that data capture area on the form. (To draw a box, simply left click where one corner of the box should be, holding the mouse down, drag the mouse to where the box should end.) Don’t include anything extra in the box—only the answers to be read, no words from the question, numbers etc. as this will result in errors in the info being “read”—but don’t have the box touching the answers either. When the mouse is released, a dialogue box appears to finish defining that area. Don’t let it scare you!   

The “Region Name” is what is going appear across the top (the header row) of the output data sheet. Call it question 1, or field 1, or “content relevancy”-- how the data collected will be identified. This field has a 60-character limit.

OMR or "Bubble" Type Regions

The “OMR type” offers choices in a drop down list:

  • Multiple - is for multiple-choice questions.

    bubble sheet, gravic remark, remark software
  • Grid - the field is a grid that will produce a single answer—i.e. a 6-digit I.D. number.

  • List - there is a list of responses in which one will be chosen. This is the one I used the most.

  • Add - the answer values will be added together.

  • Boolean - is used when the answers are "mark all that apply"—i.e. check the items you have tried. If checked, the output will be yes, if blank the output will be no.

  • Binary - is the same as Boolean, only the output is in binary string, one cell with 0s and 1s.

  • Rank - will produce the response in the order that they were “ranked” by the respondent, rather than the order on the form.

The “Data Type”–is the desired output numbers or words? (1,2,3,4, or Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor). 

Region Layout” is the orientation of the data—are the answers in rows or columns—and how many of each. This must match the box on the form—if the box surrounds a row of six circles and the response is only five, the error will be noted. (When “ok” is clicked, the box will turn red and when the curser is placed over the box, the error will be explained.)  

Possible Responses” is “answer” choices. The possible value scale allows you to set the value ranges—0 to 5, or 1 to 6. The labels are essentially the words (Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor) and the values are the numbers (1,2,3,4)—don’t let it scare you!

At this point, I also set the "Region Item Properties" (from the task pane on the left). My project was not a test, so the only properties to consider were Blank Exception handling and Multiple Exception handling. (How Remark should identify unanswered questions and questions with multiple answers in the data capture—is “BLANK” to be printed out, or nothing. Is MULTI to print out—or simply an asterisk?) 

Click OK—and back at the form, and the field is green—good to go. Just that simple, continue through the form.

Image or Open-ended Type Regions 

The next region, IMAGE, is used two different ways:

Image - allows the handwritten responses to be captured. Simply click on the image icon, and draw a box around the area where the comments will be. Here, the box drawn should be as big as possible, to make sure that all of the written comments are scanned. Again, a dialogue box appears. Name the region, click on image clip and the dialogue box changes to indicate where the images will be stored. 

Image can also be used to insert numbers or data to the records. I numbered each survey form. (The scanner doesn’t actually print numbers on the forms, but will add the number on the data capture.) I drew a box (can be in any blank area), named the region “number”, made the region type “data entry”, the data type numeric, chose the default fill as record number, checked the auto increment fill box, and hit OK. 

The OCR region (optical character recognition) allows character recognition of machine-generated data only—not hand written data. This can be used to record items like names that were over printed on the forms. Not needed on this survey form. 

Template completed!

Gravic Remark, Survey systems, concord software

That was it, I was done! In a short time, I had created a scan template and was ready to scan the survey forms. I opened the Remark OMR Office Data Center, clicked on templates, and opened the template I just created. Then I clicked on Tools, Easy Scan, and began scanning.

The Remark Office OMR Software is just that easy to use! Scan form design can be done using the Data Blocks Concord® Software or even a word processing program, and the scan template created in Remark. Paper survey forms or answer sheets can then be scanned on any flat bed image scanner, and the data analyzed using the numerous reports available in the Remark OMR Data Center software, or data can be exported to the application/program of your choice. 

I have a list of 10 Helpful Tips that I learned during this process. Click on the button below to download my tips--avoid the errors I made!

Download Remark Tips List


Topics: OMR scan form, Remark Office OMR Software, Concord Software, OMR, Gravic Remark, data caputre

Scannable Forms Design Easy with Concord®

Posted by Jackie Jones on Mar 20, 2013 4:47:00 PM


DATA BLOCKS offers a great software package that works hand in hand with Remark Office OMR® called Concord (or the Concord Suite). This software allows the user to easily create/design test and survey forms that are “plain paper” and scannable on image scanners. The Concord Suite has potential of substantial cost savings for anyone wanting to engage in data collection and analysis.

Cost Savings:

Scantron forms are “read” by optical mark recognition scanners (OMR), using specially designed machine-readable data capture software. OMR scanners are specially designed to detect and record which bubbles are marked on the bubble answer sheet. The OMR scanner has that single use, to only scan the specially designed and printed scannable forms. Although OMR scanning is very accurate, the forms design requires a trained forms or graphic designer, or special forms designer software like Magenta. If the timing marks and bubbles on the forms are not precise, the data cannot be “read” or detected. The scantron forms must be carefully designed and printed. These additional form requirements add extra time and costs to make sure the forms are printed properly. Copied OMR forms cannot be “read”, often time, the timing marks and answers are not detected at all.   Concord image scanner

Image scanners, on the other hand, are quite common—most of us have scanners (page, document, or flat bed scanners with an Automatic Document Feeder or ADF)—so no special purchase of dedicated equipment is required. The “plain paper” scantron forms can be scanned on most image scanners. Form design with the Concord product is relatively easy and can be completed “in house” by anyone with a little PC or word processing knowledge. Forms can be printed on your laser printer, or copied on your copier. This allows changes to be made quickly and as needed, and additional forms copied as required.

Once the forms are scanned (by either method), the data is collected and manipulated by the Remark® scanning, reporting and exporting data collection software. 

  scannable form designed using Concord software

Form Design:

As indicated above, the design of the OMR scannable form is precise and critical. There are rules for the image scannable forms design as well, but the Concord software makes it easy.

The Concord software EZ form wizard “knows” all of the rules and nuances for image scannable form design and incorporates them automatically into your form. To name a few:

  • Concord used special bubble fonts designed to meet the design requirements of Remark Office OMR and to make sure you have access to lots of different special characters in the bubbles that do not exist in regular fonts.

  • Allows 3 sizes (small, normal, large) of Circles, Ovals and Squares as bubbles.

  • Allows at least 3/8 inch between any text, lines or boxes and the bubbles.

  • Allows at least 1/4 inch between bubbles.

  • Makes shading, boxes and lines near bubbles very light.

  • Groups similar types of questions (true and false together, multiple choice together, etc.)

  • Uses special Barcode fonts with at least 3/8 inch whitespace around them. 

  • Allows at least 3/8 inch margin on all four sides of the form.


This tutorial video shows how EZ it is!


The EZ form wizard really simplifies the process. Simply answer a few questions in the wizard, and start entering your questions—or cut and paste the questions from other forms or a word processor (“real Windows" cut and paste). After leaving the wizard, using regular drawing tools, Concord also allows for graphics (logos), colors, and automatic numbering of questions. Concord has a Data Merge feature that allows for information to be taken from a file (variable data) and merged into the forms in the form of barcodes, bubble fields, (0-9 grids, A-Z grid, BCD or binary) or text data while the forms are being printed. Forms can also be serialized using this feature. Multi-language spell checker is even included. 

I downloaded the free software demo, and created a scannable form with true/false and Linkert questions in an afternoon. Quick and simple. I have no graphic design training, or any type of forms creation training what so ever. (We have experts here, I don't need to know how.) If I can do it, so can you!  


                                 Download a FREE  demo of Concord Software


Topics: scantron form, omr scanner, form design software

Health Risk Assessment Establishes Baselines for Wellness Programs

Posted by Jackie Jones on Feb 8, 2013 5:22:00 PM

survey forms for the healthcare industry, scantron forms

 All the rage!

Wellness programs/ wellness benefits have become the fastest growing category of employee benefits today. Depending upon what you read, anywhere from 1 in 4 (25%) to 4 in 5 (80%) employers offer/have wellness programs. The reasons behind this trend are just as varying as the statistics:

  • The projected promise of saving upwards of 20% on health insurance costs,

  • Reducing corporate absenteeism (purported to nationally cost 
    companies in the neighborhood of $300 billion annually), or

  • Improving the productivity of those employees who are on the job.  (Lack of employee “engagement” is professed to cost anywhere from $36 billion to $300 billion annually.), or

  • To recruit and retain (perhaps health conscious) employees; with the cost savings being in recruitment, replacement and other turnover costs. 

Programs vary

The wellness programs range from very simple to very intricate. Some companies have no smoking policies and offer smoking cessation classes; some offer healthy food options in vending machines and the cafeteria, or on site exercise rooms or equipment; some offer to pay portions of health club memberships; while others have comprehensive workplace programs designed to assess an individual’s health related quality of life, including lifestyle behaviors, compliance with preventive health screenings and protocols, and future disease risks.

The comprehensive programs all seem to follow the same format:

  1. Steps one and two are fairly self-explanatory.  If upper management is not “in-tune” with a “healthy” corporate culture-- promoting health awareness, the success of a wellness program is highly unlikely. Any successful corporate program needs a champion at the senior management or “C” level. Wellness (self-ownership or self-care) could be one of the company values.Upper management buy in, and leadership who will lead by example.

  2. Establish a Wellness Committee, or promotion team to outline the program, define activities and goals. Collect information-establish a baseline.

  3. Define a yearly operating plan, based upon the information collected, to include short and long term objectives with health initiatives.

  4. Consistently assess the outcomes; celebrating when goals are met and reviewing or changing initiatives that may not be attainable.

The Wellness Committee needs to be large enough to advertise and promote the program, plan and coordinate activities, measure outcomes, etc. This team also needs to be the coaches on healthy lifestyles, motivators and cheerleaders. Essentially this team’s objective is to keep the program going.

Health Risk Assessments   

Collecting information, or establishing the baseline can be achieved by having employees complete a health risk assessment questionnaire. (Google Health Risk Assessment Questionnaire, today there were 4,200,000 results—by the time you read this, there will be more, I’m sure!) In addition to establishing the baseline, the Health Risk Assessment (HRA) serves to promote health awareness by reviewing one’s personal practices and the impact of choices and revealing potential health issues that may otherwise not be considered, or at least that obvious. I was truly surprised at the range of questions/topics on HRAs.
Questions/categories ranged from nutritional habits, fitness habits, stress management, mental exercises, sleep habits, depression, weight management, heart disease, oral hygiene and flossing habits, seat belt safety and the size of one’s car, sun screen use, education and income, financial planning and “wellness”, environmental risks and even the circumference of one’s waist (not information that I would want to divulge!)—to name a few.

HRAs are presented in various formats—scannable bubble forms, online questionnaires, or “tablet” kiosks at health fairs. Scannable OMR forms are a great way to collect HRA information from your participants. Scantron-type forms allow you to collect a great deal of information using minimal amounts of paper, and are percieved as being more "confidential" when sensitive questions and information is being requested.

After completed forms are scanned, or the electronic data collected, the data can be merged. The participant usually receives an individual report with recommended actions of lifestyle changes, and/or a comparison with all the other participants from his/her group. The company usually also receives a summary report of all of the participants highlighting the health risks for that group, and where changes can or should be made.

Suggestions for change

Once the data is collected, it should be evaluated to determine the greatest opportunity for changes that can lead to health improvement. Reliable research has proven that people can change bad habits to good, and programs can be developed and implemented to help employees change their habits. This is when the health initiatives are defined, making sure that goals are attainable. Hopefully the committee has some creative members who can make these programs fun, challenging or interesting. 


And finally, any successful program needs evaluation. Completion of HRAs should be done at a minimum once a year—every 6 months would be better. This allows the individual as well as the company to determine the success of their involvement. Positive outcomes are a great motivator. These could also be indicators of:

  • Are the goals being met? Health Risk Assessment, scantron formsAre goals too low or too high?

  • If incentives are involved, are they working?

  • Are more support programs required?

  • Are the participants wanting/willing to change habits?


Any program needs to be assessed (and “tweaked”) on a regular basis to keep it current, relevant and successful.  

If you are interested in creating your own Health Risk Assessment, and implementing a wellness plan, the CDC has published a check list for implementing an employee program. (They use the word appraisal rather than assessment.) You can download a copy of this checklist by clicking on the button below.


                                              Download Checklist for HRA Implementation!

Topics: scantron form, scannable bubble forms, Health Risk Assessment

Bullying Prevention Challenge - Beyond the Bullying Questionnaire!

Posted by Jackie Jones on Jan 28, 2013 8:15:00 AM

A National ChallengeNo Bullying circle

In my last blog, I had just discovered that October was National Bullying Prevention Month (a little late!). Once again, I am late! I have now learned about another great program! The Health Resources and Services Administration and the Federal Partners for Bullying Prevention had posted a video challenge to teens (between the ages of 13 and 18) to create a video to help prevent or end bullying in schools and communities around the country. I indicated that I was somewhat late, because this challenge was issued in August, with all entries due to be received by October 14, 2012 (of course, during National Bullying Prevention Month). The challenge was for teens to create and submit a 30 to 60 second video. The video had to be original and new, never displayed or distributed before (not previously on YouTube). The video had to close with a visual mention of the Stop Bullying website:


(A federal government website managed by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
200 Independence Avenue, S.W. - Washington, D.C. 20201).

The intent of the challenge was to have peer-to-peer communication, presenting positive ideas on how not to be a bystander when observing bullying, how to help the victim, and how to help create a safer, kinder culture (in addition to "spreading the word" about the Stop Bullying website). It is "kids leading kids" to think about the right thing, to do the right thing, or at the very least know where to go for help. One of the best ways to address bullying would be to change the cultures in schools, and the best way to change a culture is from within—peer-to-peer—a great challenge!

The Entries

There were 900 videos submitted in the challenge—900! My initial reaction was WOW, that’s a lot of videos to screen! But then my mind went to 50 states, that’s only an average of 18 per state, and suddenly it’s not very many. We need more publicity for challenges as well! 

The 900 submissions were reviewed and narrowed down to 25 semi-finalists by December. Voting was opened to the public on December 3, 2012 to select the top entries out of the semi-finalists. Public voting was closed on December 10, 2012. Again, last month—I missed my chance! (To be honest, I am not sure that I would have watched 25 videos, that’s a little more time than I would normally spend “surfing,” but if the others were even almost as good as the finalists, I think I might have tried to find the time!) There are 5,595 followers for this challenge on the Challenge website, which leads me to believe that at least 5,595 people did watch all 25 videos and did vote. There are now seven videos (finalists) in the Submission Gallery.  

I did watch all of the seven videos—they are all very good—very good. It is amazing, the talent of the youth of America! The videos are all very creative; the presentation is great.  The suggestions or ideas are wonderful. There is even one video with original music, the teen-aged singer/song-writer is extremely talented! These kids are capable of impacting cultural change! Kudos to all of entries, they all deserve to win. 

The Winners

The top three video finalists were to be announced mid-January, but the announcement has not been made yet. The winner could be announced any time now! The "winner" will receive $2000, and the two runners up will receive $500 each. I am anxious to see which ones do actually get picked as the winners. As I indicated, there are 5,595 followers on the challenge, so there are a lot of people besides me waiting to see who the winners will be.

As an organization involved in many bullying questionnaires and school climate surveys, we here at Survey Systems support these kinds of efforts to change the culture and climate of schools. It is encouraging to watch these great videos! 


To view the finalist videos, click on the link below:

                                               VIEW VIDEOS      

 The winners have been announced!!

The GRAND PRIZE WINNER:  Break the Chain

HONERABLE MENTION:   It Starts with One

Pablo Soberanis's Submission-Make a Difference

Topics: bullying questionnaire, bullying survey

National Bullying Prevention Month Needs More Publicity!

Posted by Jackie Jones on Jan 11, 2013 3:18:00 PM

Did you know “we” have a National Bullying Prevention Month?

October was National Bullying Prevention Month. I didn't know this, so I had to do some research! We scan a large number of the various bullying prevention surveys, so this was a subject I needed to learn more about! Most states have some sort of bullying prevention policy or program in place. The majority of the programs are targeted at schools, and use tools such as Climate Surveys or Bullying Questionnaires, to determine the existence/extent of bullying. 

Almost all of the bullying prevention programs I’ve read about have several things in common:

Definition of bullying:

The definition of bullying: “aggressive, unwanted behavior that is intentional and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power; most often repeated over time.” This definition appears to be the standard, repeated in almost any article on bullying. Dr. Dan Olweus defined bullying as such in the early 1970s. Dr. Olweus is touted as the world expert on bullying. He began his research in Norway (in the early 1970s), and as early as 1981 was pushing for legislation against bullying in schools. It was the mid 1990s before the Norwegian and Swedish parliaments enacted such laws, and later for the United States. (Between 1999 and 2010, 46 of the 50 states in the United States enacted anti-bullying laws.) Many of the state laws now include the words harassment or intimidation in their definition of bullying as well. The state laws are primarily in response to events such as the Columbine shooting, and increases in school violence; whereas Dr. Olweus’s premise for the laws was based more on human rights—the fundamental right of any student to feel safe in school. 

Is there a problem?

The first step of any anti-bullying program is the requirement to assess if there is a problem, and to determine the extent of bullying—(who? how? where? when?). This assessment is usually made by surveying all or a large sample of the students using anonymous bubble marked scannable survey forms. The most widely used scannable bullying form is the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire. This is part of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program (OBPP). The program itself is arguably the most researched, and most widely used bullying prevention program in the world. The English version of the questionnaire, as well as the program, is used by thousands of schools in the U.S. 

There are also a number of school climate surveys that are being used as assessment tools for bullying, although in smaller quantities, as well as some health and wellness scannable survey forms that include bullying questions.

school climate survey, bullying survey, scantron form

The forms are scanned; reports are generated and returned to the school. (In the case of the Olweus Bullying Questionnaires, the information is included in a national data base, and individual school reports contain a comparison to the national average.)

When the survey is completed, what’s the next step?

Upon receipt of the survey results, the next step is to determine what the results mean, and decide how to deal with them. This may include defining/building a bullying prevention program that addresses the issues identified in the survey. Sometimes this done by a committee of teachers, sometimes a committee of teachers and students combined; sometimes separate committees of teachers and students, and then the parents and community are included. Initially, the committee(s) is (are) responsible for: 

  1. Determining and/or publishing the school policy/rules on bullying. Making sure every one knows what the rules are, what the consequences are, and that there is support within the school. Making sure that everyone knows where to go to report bullying, or where to go to seek help. Educating students, teachers, parents, and community members alike.

  2. The education, support and enforcement processes continue, and after some time (a school year), the assessment process is repeated. The initial survey is now the baseline—“where we were”. Another survey is completed, scanned, reported and the results compared to measure progress, change and the overall effectiveness of the program over time, and the cycle continues. 


Are Bullying Prevention Programs working?

Yes! There are numerous articles touting the success of both the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, and various other School Climate or specialized Bullying surveys. In addition to reducing bullying, (thereby improving school climate), these various programs are said to be positively impacting truancy, test scores, and vandalism. 

To download a free list of evidence-based bullying prevention programs that have been examined and approved by federal agencies to assist schools in their bullying prevention efforts, click the link below.  

Download Bullying Prevention Curriculum List!





Topics: bullying questionnaire, bubble answer sheets, bullying survey, School climate surveys