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 becomes 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. 

Informational Video

Individual School Instructions 

2021 Grades 6-8 Student Survey Questions

2021 Classroom Instructors Survey Questions

2021 Staff Survey Questions

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 & Campus Safety (VCSCS), according to §22.1-279.8.B of the Code.

Who will participate in the survey?

The student survey is administered in alternating years; middle school students were surveyed in spring 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019 and will be surveyed again in 2021. High school students were surveyed in spring 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2020. For 2021, schools with regular education programs for students in grades six through eight are required to administer the student survey. In addition, divisions may choose to administer the survey to students in grades six through eight in other educational settings (e.g., alternative or speciality centers). It is recommended that schools survey all students in participating schools, so that they have the most complete and accurate information about their school. Schools unable to survey all students will have the option of surveying a random sample of 25 students within each grade. Schools surveying all students should achieve a participation rate of at least 80 percent. Schools choosing the random sample option must follow a random number procedure to select at least 25 students in each grade to complete the survey. Alternates will also be randomly selected so that at least 25 students in each grade complete the survey. If preferred, divisions may select one sampling strategy (all students or a random sample) for all participating schools in the division. 

Schools are also required to administer the companion survey for adults to all licensed staff (instructional and support personnel) in all public elementary and secondary schools, regardless of grades served. 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 speciality centers) at the discretion of the school division. The student and adult surveys will be administered concurrently.

What are the important dates for the 2021 survey?

  • Correspondence will begin going out from DCJS to divisions in October 2020
  • Schools will be asked to complete a pre-survey form by October 20, 2020
  • Instruction Packets will be distributed by DCJS in Mid-November 2020
  • Schools should send letters to parents/guardians (template provided) 30 days prior to their selected survey window 
  • The VCSCS, VDOE, VATech and UVA will hold informational webinar in December 2020
  • The VA School Survey window will open January 11, 2021 and will close March 19, 2021

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 useds 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 2021 Virginia School Survey of Climate and Working Conditions will be administered to schools beginning January 11, 2021, and ending March 19, 2021 through a partnership between the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) and the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). 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