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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 will be available again in the fall of 2021.

Upcoming Events

Bullying Webinar Invite (January 28)

On January 28 at 3:00 p.m., administrators are invited to join Anne Gilligan from the Office of Student and Family Support and Shelagh Peoples from the Office of Planning and Research for a one-hour webinar on bullying. Anne will discuss the current bullying legislation in Massachusetts and update administrators on the latest data reporting requirements that relate to this legislation. Shelagh will summarize key findings from the latest bullying research brief; these findings are based on students' perceptions of the bullying climate within districts' schools. Meeting details are provided in the registration form.

Please register for the webinar.

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

Prior Years

Last Updated: June 4, 2020

Contact Us

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

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


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