School Surveys FAQ

We’ve submitted our application and our letter of agreement. What comes next?
Thank you for submitting your application! We will contact you directly if there is anything missing from your application materials. Please note if your school or district requires approval before research can be conducted and we will contact you about next steps. If your school or district requires approval and you did not provide this information on your application, please let us know as soon as possible. Survey administration will begin in October, and you will receive additional information as well as your school’s individualized survey link for students, staff, and parents prior to administration.

I’m not sure if my school/district requires approval for research. How can I find out?
Your school leader or school board should know what is required before research can be conducted at your school. Some schools have their own internal research approval processes, while many districts have IRBs that must review requests to conduct research. If your school leader is unsure about this, you can contact your district to find out.

What should I do if my school or district requires approval for research?
Schools are responsible for letting the Caring Schools team know about any required approvals when they submit their Letter of Agreement. If your school is accountable to a district IRB, please include as much information as you have (for example, if you have a specific point of contact at the district, or if there is a specific page on the district’s website outlining the approval process). If you require other types of permissions, such as parent consent or assent, review of surveys, etc., please be as specific as possible about what approvals you require.

What is an IRB?
An Institutional Review Board (IRB) is an independent committee that is responsible for approving, monitoring, and reviewing different types of research to ensure that the research is conducted in an ethical, safe manner. All research from Harvard University, even when the data is anonymous, must be approved by the Harvard University IRB, and some schools and districts require approval from their own IRBs as well.

Who are Caring Schools surveys designed for?
Our student survey is designed for students in grades 6-12. Currently, the survey is only available in English, and is written at a middle school reading level. Younger students may have a challenging time understanding the questions, or may find the questions irrelevant; for schools that serve younger students and are interested in social-emotional learning, there are a wide range of other programs, such as CASEL, designed for this age group. Our teacher survey is intended for all adults in the building.

When and how will we receive the surveys?
Our surveys are designed to be administered online. Schools will receive an individualized, anonymous link for each survey (student, staff, and parent) in October.

Can we review the surveys before administering them?
Yes, in fact we strongly recommend that the principal or another administrator review the surveys before they are administered. Please email us at if you would like to review the surveys prior to administration.

What is the best way to administer the student survey?
Schools should plan to administer the anonymous student survey to as many students as possible within the grade levels you are targeting. Students will need computer access in order to complete the survey. We recommend doing the survey during class time to maximize student response. Here are a few suggestions tips for survey administration:

  • You can write the link on the board for students to copy
  • Computers can be set up ahead of time with the link saved to the desktop
  • If students have school email addresses, you can send the link to them directly

What is the best way to administer the staff survey?
The staff survey link can be emailed to teachers for them to complete independently, or can be administered during staff meetings or planning periods. We recommend giving staff information in advance, preferably at a faculty meeting, about the purpose of the survey and the timeline for administration and about when staff will hear about the results. We can offer scripts to be used during faculty meetings and/or language to include in emails to staff.

What is the best way to administer the parent survey?
We know from experience that getting a large number of responses from parents can be challenging and we make every effort to make this process as simple as possible. Here are a few suggestions:

  • If possible, email the link directly to parents for easy administration.
  • Provide locations at school (e.g., main office) where parents can drop by to complete the survey when they are already at the school, such as during school registration or a parent event. Be sure parents are aware of these locations.
  • Find ways to assure that a broad and diverse range of parents who are representative of your school take the survey. Sometimes when schools ask parents to volunteer to take a survey, only certain groups of parents who are already engaged in the school community volunteer. One strategy you might use to get a broad, diverse range of parents is to try to get all or the great majority of the parents in a few classes to take the survey.
  • If you are worried about receiving a sufficient number of responses, you may wish to consider offering an incentive to complete the survey.

MCC also offers a Spanish-language version of the parent survey, and can create parent flyers to accompany survey administration.

We are having difficulty administering the survey, what should we do?
If you are having technical difficulties, please email us at explaining the problem and our team will help you troubleshoot. If you have questions about the best way to administer the survey under special circumstances, please email us more information about your specific concerns.

When will we receive our results?
Schools can expect to receive a report of their results within two months of survey administration.

What should we do once we’ve received our results?
Schools are encouraged to share results with their school leadership and staff. The Caring Schools team will provide resources on interpreting data, developing action plans, as well as numerous research-based strategies that schools can easily implement to support safety, caring, and respect. If you have chosen a Caring Schools package that includes personalized consultation we will be in touch to schedule a convenient time. We recommend that your school assemble a team of individuals to work with the data more closely and take the lead on interpreting the results, identifying strengths and challenge areas, and attending webinars.

Will you help us interpret our results?
Our ability to help interpret survey results depends on the Caring Schools package that you choose. You can review package options here. The Caring Schools team provides all Caring Schools with resources to interpret their results internally. We will also hold webinars on working with survey data, providing schools with the opportunity to ask questions and learn about this process and to discuss this process with each other,

We would like to use or edit your survey for our own purposes. Is that okay?
In the past, schools have expressed interest in administering our survey on their own, or editing our survey for their own purposes. Please email us at with more information about how you would like to modify and use our survey. All survey revisions will need to be approved by the Harvard Institutional Review Board.