• At this time, phone service is down at DESE offices. Staff can be reached via email. We apologize for the inconvenience.
  • Stay informed about COVID-19 and the latest health and safety guidance for school districts
  • Office of Planning and Research

    Views of Climate and Learning (VOCAL) Survey Project, 2019


    VOCAL is an annual survey sponsored by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. It was administered to students in grade 4, grade 5, grade 8, and grade 10. In 2019, 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 systems support 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.

    2019 VOCAL Survey Findings

    Bullying in Massachusetts Research Brief

    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

    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.

    Executive Summary and Descriptive Reports

    Descriptive Reports

    2019 VOCAL Sample Report and Guidance Materials

    The sample report replicates the data and format provided to districts and schools, respectively. Schools and districts are also provided with the guidance materials and resources posted on this webpage.

    Sample Reports

    FAQ and Guidance Materials


    • Provides answers to frequently asked questions

    Grade-level school profiles

    Description of a relatively strong, typical, and relatively weak school climate in Massachusetts within:

    User Guide

    • Information and guidance on the different types of VOCAL scores and their appropriate use.

    Interpretive Guide and Action Planning Resource for Schools

    • How to analyze and interpret VOCAL school climate data using the school sample report data as an exemplar (a completed and a blank template are provided)

    • Action Planning template for schools to set goals/priorities related to school climate (a completed and a blank template are provided)

    VOCAL Item Crosswalk

    • Connecting VOCAL 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

    2019 Survey Content

    The surveys administered in 2019 can be viewed below:

    Last Updated: January 26, 2021

    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.