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FAQs for Outside California Participants

The following describes options for survey planning, administration, and reporting for schools outside of California. The survey can be administered as is, or can be customized to meet your specific needs, so that you create your own version of the CSSS.

It is strongly recommended that the companion California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) be administered to students at the same time as the California School Staff Survey for staff, so that student and staff perceptions and experiences can be compared. For information on the CHKS, see or call 888.841.7536.

Why conduct the School Staff Survey among staff?

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The survey is designed to provide data on staff perceptions of key school climate factors that can be used to guide efforts to foster positive learning and teaching environments that promote high performance and well-being among both students and staff. It helps to identify fundamental learning barriers and assess the needs for learning and teaching supports. To-date, school reform strategies have largely ignored the school context and the non-cognitive, environmental factors (school climate) that can impede students’ readiness and motivation to learn , and, in turn, their ability to benefit from improvements. Equally important is the influence of school climate on instruction and a school’s ability to attract and retain quality teachers.

What does the survey assess?

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Based on research about the most pressing needs of schools today, and on feedback from teachers and administrators, the CSSS includes a wide range of questions about key learning and teaching conditions, barriers, and supports for both general and special education. Underlying its development is research and theory demonstrating that high student achievement and staff job satisfaction are linked to school environments that are supportive, challenging (rigorous with high expectations), caring, participatory (staff and student involvement in meaningful decision-making and activities), safe, and healthy.

The CSSS consists of a general, 116-item Core Module targeting all staff, and one topic-specific module for staff with specific responsibilities related to health, prevention, discipline, counseling, and/or safety (22 questions). Schools can administer the Core alone or with one or both of the special topic modules. A custom module can also be created with questions that assess additional areas of concern.

The School Staff Survey also collects data related to issues of equity, respect, and cultural competency to support efforts to close the racial/ethnic achievement gap.

Who should take the survey?

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The School Staff Survey is appropriate to administer in all school levels, k-12. It should be offered to all certificated staff working in all schools (including continuation schools) in order to obtain a large enough sample to have confidence that the results are truly representative (i.e., valid, not biased) and to maintain school anonymity.

How is the survey coordinated?

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WestEd works with a single coordinator to plan and schedule the survey. If you would like to add site-specific questions to the survey, please provide them to us. The coordinator is also responsible for distributing the survey instructions provided by WestEd and monitoring survey completion.

How is the survey administered?

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To keep costs and local effort to a minimum, staff take the survey online, via the Internet, using a school-specific login, following simple instructions. The survey must be completed in one session, at the end of which results are submitted electronically to WestEd.

How are the results reported?

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The basic report is immediately available online. In addition, two types of custom reports are available for additional fees.

Online Report

The basic reporting system is online. This system enables districts to view in bar graph form (and print out if desired) the overall percentages for each response option to each question for up to four different aggregated levels — the district as a whole, elementary schools, middle or junior high schools, and high schools — as well as for each individual school that meets the reporting criteria. Each level is a separate report.

Custom Reports

Technical Report. Printed Technical Reports are also available that organize the data by subject matter, rather than the question-by-question order of the online report. For these reports, each table combines all the data for different school levels (as opposed to the online reports where each level must be viewed and printed out separately). Summary tables (not available online) provide easy comparison of key findings. In addition, the report contains an extensive discussion of the meaning and significance of each question and how the questions are related in the context of school climate research. This user-friendly report will facilitate data comparison and dissemination.

Disaggregated or Aggregated Reports

Special reports can be prepared that disaggregate the data by subgroup characteristics or aggregate the results at the regional or state level. In California, reports are prepared that provide districts with their survey results disaggregated by the race/ethnicity of the staff, whether or not they are part of the migrant education system, and whether or not they provide special education services to students with Individual Education Plans (IEPs). Each year, reports aggregating results at the state level are also prepared.

What are the survey costs?

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For information about the cost of administering the CHKS, download the 2016-17 fee schedule (pdf).

How do I sign up?

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Sign up using step-by-step directions for the School Staff Survey and the Healthy Kids Survey, or by calling the CHKS/CSSS Helpline at 888.841.7536.

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