Virginia Secondary School Climate Survey

Starting in 2012-13, the School Safety Audit now includes a Secondary School Climate Survey for students and teachers. The survey is a component of the annual school safety audit which school divisions are required to submit to the Virginia Center for School Safety (VCSS), according to §22.1-279.8.B of the Code.

Survey Instructions

What is the purpose of the survey?

The purpose of the survey is to provide schools with information on school climate and safety conditions in order to maintain a safe and orderly school environment conducive to learning. The survey measures student and teacher/staff perceptions of school rules and discipline, teacher-student relationships, student engagement in school, and the extent of bullying and teasing at school.

Who will participate in the survey?

This survey is administered in alternating years; grades 7 and 8 were surveyed in spring 2013 and grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 were surveyed in spring 2014. Grades 7 and 8 will be surveyed in spring 2015 and grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 in spring 2016. There are two companion surveys, one for students and another for teachers and other professional staff. All teachers and professional staff are asked to complete the survey. Schools may choose from two options for surveying students: (1) Survey all students; or (2) Survey a random sample of 25 students in each grade.

How will the survey be administered?

The survey will be administered online in schools, supervised by school personnel. The survey will be anonymous, which means that students and teachers will not identify themselves.

How will the survey results be used?

Data from the School Safety Survey program is combined with the Department of Education’s Discipline, Crime, and Violence database in order to identify patterns of structure and support that are associated with lower rates of discipline problems, suspensions, and expulsions, as well as more positive student and teacher perceptions of the school climate. All schools receive reports of survey results for their school so that they can identify their strengths as well as areas for improvement. There are also supplemental reports of statewide research findings showing how student discipline and support practices are associated with positive educational outcomes, including safer school conditions, fewer disciplinary consequences, greater student engagement, and higher academic achievement.

Who conducts this survey?

The survey is conducted by the Virginia Center for School Safety in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education and the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education and Youth Nex, the Center to Promote Positive Youth Development. Survey data are analyzed and reported by the University of Virginia, funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

What can we learn from school climate surveys?

School climate surveys can provide schools with valuable information to assess student and teacher perceptions of school conditions. This information can be used to improve school discipline and student support practices in order to maintain a safe and orderly school environment conducive to learning. The University of Virginia has conducted a series of studies using school climate surveys in Virginia schools. A brief summary of this research is here.

Additionally, the University of Virginia has published several findings related to the results of previous surveys, available in this series of documents:

Contact Information

For more information, call Donna Michaelis, manager of the Virginia Center for School Safety at 804-371-6506 or email You can also contact Jessica Smith, the School and Campus Security Program Administrative Specialist, at 804-786-5367 or

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