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Virginia School Survey of Climate and Working Conditions

The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertain and evolving circumstances through which schools continue to provide educational services to students. We recognize that this public health crisis will impact schools and students for years to come. As teachers, staff, and students adapt to new instructional circumstances, it is critically important that we understand the impact of the pandemic on climate and working conditions, and continue to monitor our progress towards recovery. The Virginia School Survey is a tool for division leaders and principals to monitor and ensure all students and staff have access to a healthy and positive environment in which to learn, work, interact, and grow, whether remotely or in-person. 



Results for the past Secondary School Climate Survey

What is the purpose of the survey?

The purpose of the survey is to provide schools with information on school climate, safety, and working 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. The survey is a component of the annual school safety audit which school divisions are required to submit to the Virginia Center for School and Campus Safety (VCSCS), according to § 22.1-279.8.B of the Code of Virginia.

Who will participate in the survey?

The student survey is administered in alternating years; middle school students are surveyed in odd years and high school students are surveyed in even years. 

For 2024, schools with education programs for students in grades 9 through 12 are required to administer the student survey. Schools must invite all students in grades 9-12 to participate and should strive to achieve a participation rate of at least 80 percent.  

Schools are also required to administer the companion survey for adults to all licensed staff (instructional and support personnel) in participating schools regardless of grades served by the individual. The adult survey may also be administered to non-licensed staff, and may be administered to adults in other educational settings (e.g., alternative or specialty centers) at the discretion of the school division. The student and adult surveys will be administered concurrently.

The survey will run from January 15, 2024 through March 1, 2024. Divisions and schools have the autonomy to utilize the full seven weeks or a shorter window within the seven week period.

What are the important dates for the 2023 survey?

  • Correspondence will begin going out from DCJS to divisions in August 2023
  • Divisions will be asked to complete a pre-survey form by September 22, 2023
  • Schools will recieve initial communication and be asked to complete a school pre-survey form by October 20, 2023
  • Schools should send letters to parents/guardians (template provided) 30 days prior to their selected survey window 
  • The VA School Survey window will open January 15, 2024 and will close March 1, 2024

How will the survey be administered?

The survey will be administered online. The Virginia School Survey is anonymous. Participants will not give their names on the survey, and it will not be possible to match survey answers to participant identities. Although teachers and staff will be asked to identify their role in the school, responses will be aggregated in school reports to protect their identity. A breakdown of results by role will be provided in the statewide report, but not in individual school reports.

How will the survey results be used?

Data from the VA School Survey will be used to identify patterns of positive student and teacher perceptions of the school climate and working conditions. 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.  Schools can view the results of the survey after the reports are made available.  

Who conducts this survey?

The Virginia School Survey of Climate and Working Conditions is administered to schools through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) and the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). To reduce survey administrative burden, the Virginia School Survey combines two required survey efforts into a single survey instrument and administration cycle: 

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

Nikki Wilcox, School Safety Audit and Climate Survey Coordinator
Email Nikki

James Christian, K-12 School Safety and Threat Assessment Manager
Email James