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Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) Survey Project

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The Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) survey is designed to provide schools with information on student perceptions of three dimensions of school climate (engagement, safety, and environment). The topics measured within each dimension are summarized below.

Engagement (ENG)

Cultural Competence

The extent students feel adults/students value diversity, manage dynamics of differences, and avoid stereotypes.


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 students feel there is a social connection and respect between staff/teachers and students, and between students and their peers.

Safety (SAF)

Emotional Safety

The extent students feel a bond to the school, and the extent adults/students support the emotional needs of students.

Physical Safety

The extent that students feel physically safe within the school environment.


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.

Environment (ENV)

Instructional Environment

The extent that students feel the instructional environment is collaborative, relevant, challenging, and supportive of learning.

Mental Health Environment

The extent that students have access to support systems that effectively support their social, emotional, and mental health well-being.

Discipline Environment

The extent that discipline is fair, applied consistently and evenly, and a shared responsibility among staff, teachers, and students.

The VOCAL survey is based on the conceptual framework of the U.S. Department of Education's School Climate Surveys. Students in grades 4, 5, 8, and 10 can participate in the survey as part of the state MCAS administration each year.

VOCAL State Report

The state report includes data for both the current year and for previous years. The data are provided in Power BI and accessed through the link below:

Executive Summaries

Executive summaries provide an overview of the VOCAL survey design and describe the salient results from each year's state report.

Past Years

In the dropdown below, past executive summaries are available.

VOCAL Guidance Materials

The following guidance materials and resources are available to help interpret the VOCAL data.


The FAQ provides answers to frequently asked questions

Grade-level school climate profiles

Narratives of student responses at 3 benchmark scores (30, 50, and 70) on the scale of 1 to 99. These benchmark scores are used to divide students' VOCAL scaled scores into one of four school climate perception categories ("least favorable", "somewhat favorable", "favorable", and "most favorable").


The User Guide provides information on the two types of data (index scaled scores and item response data) provided in the state, district, and school VOCAL reports. It provides guidance on how to use the two types of data appropriately and how to assess whether differences are meaningful.

Interpretive Guide & Action Planning Template

The Interpretive Guide template is designed to be used in conjunction with the Power BI Dashboard school climate report. It guides VOCAL data users to employ a systematic approach to analyzing and interpreting VOCAL data embedded in the dashboard tabs. The Action Planning template can be used by schools to set goals/priorities based on their school climate data analyses.

VOCAL Item Crosswalk with SEL, PBIS, and AI frameworks

The item crosswalk connects VOCAL's school climate survey items to three complementary frameworks for building safe and supportive schools:

  • Social and emotional competencies based on the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning's (CASEL) framework (self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making)
  • Accessible Instruction principles, and
  • Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) framework

Training and Upcoming Events

None at this time

VOCAL Survey Content

English and foreign language versions of the four grade-level survey item prompts are provided in the respective dropdown menus:

Brazilian Portuguese


Haitian Creole

Simplified Chinese


Training and Research Information (Webinars, Reports, Briefs)

The research section provides slide decks and/or videos of training webinars offered to the field. Reports, webinars, or research briefs related to research conducted using VOCAL data are also included in this section.

Training Webinars

Research Reports, Webinars, or Briefs

Bullying in Massachusetts Research Brief (2019)

This brief presents key findings from a research study related to bullying in Massachusetts. The key findings are divided into three sections: general student-level findings, district-level findings, and those related to the analyses of black and white student responses.

Student Engagement Webinar (2019)

This PowerPoint presents the results from a research study related to student engagement. It provides an overview of the VOCAL survey, descriptive results related to student engagement, and identifies factors that appear to promote or inhibit student engagement in Massachusetts. Notes pages are included.

Validity Studies

Validity study results are provided in the following reports. Validity studies are used to justify the use of the VOCAL scaled scores and item response data for their intended purpose.

Last Updated: March 25, 2024

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