Philly School Experience Survey (PSES) FAQs

About the Survey

Yes! In 2022-23, the annual District-Wide Survey was renamed. It is now called the Philly School Experience Survey (PSES) to better reflect that it is a survey about school communities and for school communities.

The PSES is administered to five groups (students, parents & guardians, teachers, support staff, and principals/assistant principals) to measure six key topics related to school improvement:

  1. School Climate: Areas affecting the school environment: perceptions of trusting and respectful relationships, student safety and support, and challenges to student learning.
  2. Instructional Environment: Student engagement and how students, parents/guardians, and teachers feel about the quality of teaching and learning at their school.
  3. School Leadership: How school leaders manage their responsibilities, communicate, and perceive their level of autonomy.
  4. Professional Capacity: How school staff work together, the quality of professional development, and the level of support for improvement and innovation provided to teachers and staff.
  5. Family Engagement: How schools reach out to and communicate with parents/guardians, what parents/guardians think about these efforts, and how parents/guardians are getting involved with their child’s education.
  6. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: How often issues of race, ethnicity and culture are addressed in schools, the extent to which all students and staff feel they are valued members of the school community, how integrated and fair school is for students from different backgrounds, and the extent to which schools promote an anti-racist professional culture.

Additionally, each of the six main topics comprises subtopics that can be used for a closer look at specific areas where leaders and stakeholders might target their attention. For many (but not all) topics, the surveys ask similar questions of multiple respondent groups (e.g., teachers, students, and parents/guardians) to allow comparison of different views. See the technical report for a complete list of survey topics and subtopics by respondent type.

The PSES is based on research on effective schools and school reform, particularly the extensive work done by Anthony Bryk and his colleagues (2010) at The University of Chicago Consortium on School Research. The survey was developed by the School District of Philadelphia (SDP) Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (Penn GSE), as part of Shared Solutions, the first formal researcher–practitioner partnership between SDP and Penn GSE. Through multiple rounds of focus groups, item testing, and cognitive interviews, stakeholders played a critical role in determining the questions included in the survey, the language used, and the methods of distribution.

If you visit our Survey Archive page, you can access PDFs of all surveys administered to parents/guardians, teachers, students, school staff, and principals/assistant principals since 2014-15.

Taking the Survey

The PSES is available to students (grades 3-12), parents and guardians (grades K-12), teachers, support staff, and principals and assistant principals in Philadelphia public schools (District and Charter).

The survey is not currently available for school employees serving across multiple schools (unless they are primarily associated with one school and identified with that school’s location code in their employment records).

If you are a District employee with an employee portal and do not see a survey tile during the survey window, you are not eligible to complete the survey.

View the complete list of District staff positions eligible to take the 2023-24 survey here.

The survey is intended primarily for teachers and staff assigned to work at a single school, although some who serve at three schools or fewer may be invited to take the survey. In these cases, teachers and support staff should only take the survey once, for the school they work at the most (or know the best, if their work is distributed equally across schools). Teachers and staff will have a chance to confirm which school they are taking the survey for before they begin the survey.

Teachers and staff serving at four or more different schools are not expected to take the full survey. If the survey appears in their portal, they should click on the link and answer the initial question about the number of schools they serve, after which they will be directed to the end of the survey.

Paper copies will be printed with the school name and school ID before being mailed to households or schools for distribution. For the online survey, parents and guardians will be asked to select the grade level of their student and their school name, and then will see an automated message showing them the name of the school they have selected and asking them to confirm that this is the correct school before proceeding with the survey. The survey is also programmed to notify them if the school they have selected does not offer the grade level they indicated, and to let them know if they have selected a school name that is frequently confused with another school name (e.g. Allen, Dr. Ethel School vs. Allen, Ethan School).

Starting in 2022-23, we made the parent/guardian survey anonymous because schools had provided feedback that the time and effort required for families to obtain and enter their student IDs has been a barrier to participation. There may also be some parents and guardians who feel more comfortable sharing their feedback when the survey is fully anonymous (although it has always been confidential with rigorous data protection measures in place).

With a fully anonymous survey, there is a chance that some families will take the survey more than once, and we may not be able to identify and remove these duplicate surveys from the data. The number of duplicate responses remains small, however, because:

  • The survey takes 5-10 minutes to complete, and most parents and guardians have struggled to find the time to take it even once in previous years.
  • We are working with school staff to make sure the guidelines around participation are clear (i.e. each family should submit only one survey for each school attended by children in their household).
  • We will remove surveys taken in less than one minute from the data.

No. Parents and guardians do not need to enter student IDs in order to take the PSES.

Please complete just one survey for each school that your children attend.

• For instance, if you have three children who all attend the same school, take the survey just one time.

• If you have three children who attend two different schools, take the survey twice—one time for each school that your children attend.

If you have more than one student at a school, we recommend that you answer the survey questions with the oldest student in that school in mind.

We are asking each family or household to complete one survey for each school that your children attend. This means only one parent or guardian should take the survey for each school.

Yes! If you take the survey online and do not need the paper copy, please discard the paper materials.

Please contact the PSES team at or call 215-400-6565 so we can verify that you were included in the staff list for your school.

The Student Well-Being Survey (SWBS) is a 5-minute survey that the Office of School Climate and Culture asks students in grade 3-12 to complete three times each year. The final administration window of the SWBS is combined with the PSES into one survey to allow students to complete both surveys in one sitting.

Please contact the PSES team at or call 215-400-6565.

Supporting Survey Participation

We give training and support to school staff, and we provide promotional resources for schools, like flyers translated in multiple languages.

We offer incentives, such as a $25 gift card raffle for parents who complete the survey online.

Paper copies of the Parent/Guardian survey and a prepaid return envelope are provided to schools in multiple languages.

During the survey window, we also communicate weekly with the Assistant Superintendents, who are in charge of the principals, to let them know which schools are on track for strong participation rates and which schools might need support.

The parent/guardian survey is anonymous. However, for the purposes of participating in school-based incentive opportunities, parents can disclose their participation status to their school if they choose.

The last page of the online parent/guardian survey can be saved or photographed as evidence of completion. This page does not include any survey questions. Parents/guardians who complete the paper copy of the survey can take a picture of the sealed envelope as a record that they completed it.

There will be a tracker, refreshed daily, on the Response Rate tab of our interactive data page. District principals can also access data in the “Philly School Experience Survey” Qlik app.

The live response rate tracker removes duplicate responses (based on student or teacher IDs) but otherwise includes all responses. We do additional data cleaning after the surveys are closed (for example, we remove responses from students who were not enrolled during the survey window); as a result, the numbers in the tracker may differ from final response rates.

Results are only reported for schools if the number of responses meets the minimum thresholds listed below.
Respondent groupMinimum Response Rates Required
StudentAt least 5 responses and 25% of students
Parent/GuardianAt least 5 responses and 10% of households
TeacherAt least 5 responses and 25% of teachers
Support StaffAt least 5 responses and 25% support staff
Principal/Assistant PrincipalNot available at school level – District-level or school categories only

Survey Results

The best way to explore all of the survey feedback is on our PSES results dashboard. To find responses to individual questions, select the “Question Explorer” tab. You can look at responses from across the city or the District overall, or you can select a particular school. You can also select the “Topics” tab to see the overall score for each topic.

To view results by school, our printable PDF reports that summarize the survey data for each school can be very helpful.

Data are only reported for schools that meet minimum response thresholds.

Parent/guardian survey responses are completely anonymous (meaning no student ID will be collected).

Student, teacher, support staff and principal/assistant principal responses are confidential.

The confidentiality of responses is of the utmost importance to our survey efforts. All survey administration and analysis follows The School District of Philadelphia’s Survey Code of Ethics.

The online surveys are administered through SurveyMonkey, a company that uses some of the most advanced commercially available internet security technology (view SurveyMonkey’s Privacy Policy). This ensures that user data in transit are safe, secure, and available only to the intended recipients, a dedicated team within the Office of Research and Evaluation. To further protect confidentiality, all survey data are combined, aggregated at the school level, and de-identified. Principal survey results are aggregated on a broader level (i.e., by school type, region, etc).

Surveys provided in other formats (e.g., paper copies) are administered according to strict guidelines to ensure confidentiality as well.

Because the surveys are confidential, we never follow up with any individual person about their survey responses. If you are a parent with a particular issue that you need to speak to someone about, please visit FACE’s Concern Resolution website.

Here at 440, we work with different offices to help them understand the data and use it to plan next steps. For example, each year we meet with the Office of Food Services to look at how students have responded to questions about school lunch. We also encourage principals to follow up by using survey data in their annual school plans.

For more information about how survey results are used, see here.

Still have questions?

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