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Office of Planning and Research

Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) Survey Project


VOCAL is an annual survey sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Participating students are asked to share their views on three dimensions and nine topics of school climate:

Cultural competence
  • The extent students feel adults/students value diversity, manage dynamics of differences, and avoid stereotypes.
Emotional safety
  • The extent students feel a bond to the school, and the extent adults/students support the emotional needs of students.
Instructional environment
  • The extent that students feel the instructional environment is collaborative, relevant, challenging and supportive of learning.
  • The extent students feel there is a social connection and respect between staff/teachers and students, and between students and their peers.
Physical safety
  • The extent that students feel physically safe within the school environment.
Mental health environment
  • The extent that students have access to support systems that effectively support their social, emotional and mental health well-being.
  • The extent students feel engaged intellectually, emotionally, and behaviorally in the classroom, and the extent that students or their parents are engaged in school life.
  • The extent that students report different types of bullying behaviors occurring in the school and the extent that school/staff/students try to counteract bullying.
Discipline environment
  • The extent that discipline is fair, applied consistently and evenly, and a shared responsibility among staff, teachers, and students.

Foreign Language Translations



Simplified Chinese


Information and Upcoming Events

Annual Training Opportunities

The Department offers several VOCAL data usage workshops in the fall each year. The VOCAL training is conducted in partnership with the Early Warning Indicator System (EWIS) workshops and covers an introduction to VOCAL data analyses and interpretation. These sessions have already taken place for the fall of 2019 but will be available again in the fall of 2020.

Upcoming Events

Community, Family, and Student Engagement Spring Conference

Date: March 16, 2020
Location: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Leominster, Massachusetts
Presentation entitled: Using Social and Emotional Learning Indicator System (SELIS) survey data to improve student social and emotional learning outcomes
Presenters: DESE and Melissa Maguire (Director of Student Services, Monomoy Regional School District)
Online Conference registration

Massachusetts School Counselor Association Spring Conference

Date: March 31, 2020
Location: Boston Marriott Newton, Massachusetts
Presentation entitled: Using Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) survey data to improve student social and emotional learning outcomes
Presenters: DESE, Sara Burd (Director of School Counseling and Social Emotional Learning, Arlington Public Schools) and Thad Dingman (Principal, Dallin School, Arlington)

If you have any questions on the VOCAL survey, fall trainings or upcoming events, please email

Prior Years

Contact Us

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4906

Voice: (781) 338-3000
TTY: (800) 439-2370


Disclaimer: A reference in this website to any specific commercial products, processes, or services, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporation name is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute endorsement or recommendation by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.