How are District-Wide Survey Results Used?

There are hundreds of ways to use  results from the District-wide survey to identify needs, monitor progress, and plan next steps. This page includes examples of how DWS data is used by District offices, schools, partners, and community members. Click the image at right to review the vignettes as a slideshow, or scroll down for a text-based version of the list.

Do you use have an example of how you use results from the DWS?  Email us at to have your vignette featured here!

District-wide Examples

PBIS – targeting supports, progress monitoring, evaluation

The Office of Climate and Safety uses the results of the District-wide survey to support schools implementing Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS). PBIS coaches are particularly interested in responses to questions about behavior, school discipline, and trusting relationships. Questions on the Teacher Survey like, “I have been adequately trained to manage student behavior effectively” and “My school does a good job of addressing disciplinary challenges proactively,” help PBIS coaches identify which schools need more training/support, and within schools, whether certain grade-level teachers feel more confident than others.  PBIS coaches can use this information to support networks/schools/grade-level teams that need additional support and also to build off of successes that already exist in a school community.  Similarly, questions on the Student Survey like, “I am treated with respect by other students,” and “I feel safe in the hallways and bathrooms,” help PBIS coaches and schools understand the success of their efforts in implementing PBIS from the student perspective, and can identify a clear place to focus next steps when the survey results do not reflect school or district expectations or goals.  The Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) uses responses as a source of information about the success of the implementation of PBIS in different types of schools and school settings. Survey results are incorporated into any analyses of changes in school-wide climate measures.

Teacher Professional Development – identifying needs, monitoring progress

The Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL) uses responses to the professional capacity construct on the teacher survey to monitor and adapt their approach to district-offered professional development. The professional capacity construct includes questions about innovation (“I am encouraged to try new teaching approaches in my classroom”), peer collaboration (“How often do you observe other teachers’ classrooms?”), quality of professional development (“Teacher input is taking into consideration when planning district-level/school-level professional development), consistency (“My PD activities are integrated/linked with my daily lessons), content (“What topic areas have you/ would you like to receive?), and delivery (“My PD activities and periodic follow-up throughout the year). District-level, network-level, school-level, and grade-level teacher responses are used to track the success of PD approaches and to inform planning, policies, and supports each year.  

In a May 2019 planning meeting for the upcoming school year, the OTL team used teacher survey data to inform their focus areas for 2019-20. Working in pairs, OTL staff examined teacher responses to the questions in one of the 7 sub-constructs that falls under the professional capacity construct. Each pair selected teacher responses to one question that highlighted an area of success and one question that highlighted an area for growth. During the planning meeting, each pair had a chance to explain their selections to the group, which was followed by a whole-group discussion about how these findings should guide their plans and activities as they prepare 2019-20 school year.

Improving the Quality of Instruction – identifying needs, adapting approaches

In September 2018, TNTP published “The Opportunity Myth,” which followed 4,000 students in five diverse school systems to better understand why students graduate from high school unprepared for college (ending up in remedial classes) or jobs (discovering they’re missing needed skills). Key findings from the study included: “Students spend most of their time in school without access to four key resources:  grade-appropriate assignments, strong instruction, deep engagement, and teachers who hold high expectations.” Furthermore, “students of color, those from low-income families, English language learners, and students with mild to moderate disabilities have even less access to these resources than their peers.”  The District leadership team reviewed the results of this study and compared the findings with responses from Philadelphia students and teachers about the quality of instruction, including questions on the student survey like “My teachers want me to succeed,” “My teachers have high expectations for me in school,” “In my classes we stay busy and do not waste time,” and “My school is helping to prepare me for college.”  Teacher survey questions included “Teachers at my school have high expectations for students,” “My students tell me their work is too easy,” and “If my students find their schoolwork challenging, they give up.” Chiefs, assistant superintendents, and principals identified network-level, school-level, and grade-level areas of success as well as places where additional supports are needed to improve student preparation for success within and beyond high school.  Tracking progress in this area remains a district focus, and the student and teacher survey responses are a key indicator.

Supporting English Learners – identifying needs, providing supports

The Office of Multilingual Curriculum and Programs (OMCP) works with more than 15,000 English Learners (ELs) who represent more than 130 countries and speak more than 100 home languages. OMCP staff review the responses of English Learners in the areas of school climate and instruction to better understand the networks/schools where they work and to have conversations with principals and other staff about supporting English learners. Questions on the Student Survey like “I am treated badly based on how well I speak English,” “I believe I can learn whatever is taught in my classes,” and “I can do even the hardest homework if I try” provide information to teachers, principals, and central office staff about EL student experiences and perceptions.  OMCP staff also review the teacher responses related to English learners in the areas of instruction, professional capacity, and parent-community ties to identify areas of need and customize supports for schools.

College & Career Readiness – identifying needs, providing supports, monitoring progress

Students respond to questions on the survey about their experiences and preparation for college and career, including “I know what I have to do to get the career I want,” “I am learning skills in school that will help me when I am older,” and “In school I learn about a lot of different careers.”  SDP’s Office of College & Career Readiness monitors responses to these questions and uses network-level, school-level, and grade-level findings to provide support to principals and counselors about improving student opportunities and experiences related to college and career readiness.

Health/wellness – examining trends, targeting supports, evaluation

One goal of the Eat Right Philly program is to encourage students and schools to make healthy choices. The Eat Right Philly team uses questions on the student survey like, “During the past 7 days, how many days were you physically active for at least 60 minutes?” and “Yesterday, how many times did you drink any soda, punch, fruit-flavored drinks…,” to examine trends in healthy behaviors over time as well as to identify which schools and areas could use additional support. Eat Right Philly partner organizations, counselors, and nurses also use the results from parent/guardian survey questions like “Healthy food is available in my neighborhood,” and “In the past 30 days, have you worried about having enough food for you and your family” to inform the supports they provide.

The ORE Health and Nutrition team has helped schools incorporate results from the survey into the School Health Index process.  Results on questions about student health behavior, food insecurity, and teacher perceptions on student hunger help schools monitor their progress on school-level indicators and provide additional supports.  In addition, in the 2018-2019 school year, questions about school breakfast consumption were added to the student survey so that the ORE Health and Nutrition Team can support schools in the effective implementation of the school breakfast program.

Food Services – customer satisfaction

The Division of Food Services is responsible for providing daily meals to all students in SDP.  Each year, staff review results from the student survey to track trends in customer satisfaction and identify areas for additional support and improvement.  Questions on the student survey that help inform these decisions include “When I eat school lunch, the food tastes good,” “When I eat school lunches, the menu provides healthy choices,” and “When I eat school lunches, the food is cooked to the right temperature.” Food services also use data from three questions on the student survey as a set of Key Performance Indicators that are reported on their Annual Report. 

Transportation – identifying needs, providing supports

The Office of Transportation uses results from the parent/guardian and student surveys to adapt the services and supports they provide to students, as well as identify which outside vendors are best meeting the transportation needs of our students and their families.  For example, questions on the parent/guardian survey ask parent/guardians to indicate whether public or district-provided transportation is a challenge for regular student attendance. Staff use these responses to track progress over time and to identify particular schools/communities where transportation issues are affecting student attendance. Similarly, questions on the student survey like “I feel safe going to and from school” help identify the areas of the city where additional supports are needed.

School Improvement Planning Process – identifying needs, monitoring progress, incorporating parent feedback

Staff from the Planning and Evidence-based-Support Office review survey data as part of the continuous improvement planning process conducted in partnership with school leaders. Results from student, teacher, and parent surveys are used to identify needs for new programming or areas of focus for improvement or celebration.  Parent/guardian survey responses are also used in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Title I funding requirements. In order to use Title I funds for school improvement, schools must report on parent feedback relative to school mission/vision, quality of instruction, and community engagement. Responses to questions like “Teachers at my child’s school give helpful comments on homework, classwork, and tests,” “My child’s school provides me with regular feedback about my child’s progress,” and “My child’s school provides help applying for social or medical services” are incorporated into the needs assessment portion of the school planning process.

Research and Evaluation – incorporating multiple stakeholder perspectives into research studies

Internal and external researchers rely on school-level District-wide survey results from parent/guardians, teachers, and students to inform progress on measures of climate, instruction, professional capacity, parent-guardian community ties, school leadership, college and career readiness, healthy food access, technology access and use, attendance challenges, community services, and more.  Reports and briefs produced by SDP’s Office of Research and Evaluation regularly incorporate District-wide survey results. External researchers are encouraged to use survey responses available on our Open Data website (under the “School Information” category) rather than creating/administering new surveys of parent/guardians, students, and teachers that can detract from instructional time and goals. Occasionally, additional questions have been added to the District-wide surveys as a way to measure large-scale initiatives (e.g. Grade Level Reading campaign, Community Schools).

School Progress Report – incorporating stakeholder voice in annual school review

Each year, the School Progress Report (SPR) provides information on how schools are doing in the areas that matter the most for student success – Academic Achievement and Progress, School Climate and Safety, and College and Career Readiness. Results from the District-wide surveys are included throughout the SPR. Parent/guardian survey participation rates are included in the SPR climate domain, student and parent/guardian climate ratings are included in the SPR climate domain, student ratings of college and career preparation are included in the college and career readiness domain for high schools, and student ratings of quality of instruction are included in the educator effectiveness domain.

School Staffing – identifying needs, monitoring progress

The Office of Talent uses principal and teachers responses to questions about staffing as a source of information about school-perceived needs, and also to measure progress toward their goals.  On both the teacher and principal survey, teachers and principals indicate the extent to which school level challenges affect student learning, including: principal turnover, shortage of instructional support staff (e.g. teaching aides and reading specialists), shortage of other support staff (e.g. nurses, counselors, and security), teacher turnover, and teachers teaching a subject or grade outside of their certification.

School-Level Examples

Instructional Development – identifying areas for staff development

At Lankenau High School, school staff have used the results of the Student Survey to help identify areas for staff development and instructional improvement.  Staff reviewed the responses to questions in the instruction construct from 2016-17 and 2017-18 including “My teachers have high expectations for me in school,” and “My teachers make sure I understand lessons before teaching something new” to decide that increasing rigor and focusing on student-centered learning in the classroom needed to be a focus for the 2018-19 school year. They’ll review the results from the 2018-19 survey for information about whether the focus made a difference in student perceptions of instruction.

Rigorous Instruction and Grading – using survey data alongside other data to improve instruction

Survey responses are often used alongside other sources of information.  At one school, the leadership team reviews school-level teacher responses to questions in the instruction construct about teacher practices alongside the letter grades assigned to students in different courses.  They use responses to questions like “My students critique, evaluate, and synthesize,” “My students work on extended learning projects,” and “My students apply their knowledge to new situations, concepts, or problems” to reflect on ways to improve instruction.

School Leadership – continuously improving and identifying areas of focus

Responses to the school leadership questions on the teacher survey provide information for new and returning principals and their supervisors (assistant superintendents) for improving school climate. Questions like “The principal at this school sets high standards for student learning” and “The principal at this school works to create a sense of community in this school” provide information about the key areas that leaders need to focus on to improve school climate.

Communicating Clearly – monitoring progress

Principals who are focusing on improving their communication with the entire school community have monitored the results of their efforts by reviewing teacher responses to questions like “The Principal at this school communicates a clear mission for our school” and parent responses to questions like “My child’s school communicates with me in a manner that is clear and timely” and “The principal or school leader is accessible to me” to identify areas of success and places for continued improvement

Improving school community – using survey data alongside discipline data to gain more information

District and school leaders use the District’s “QlikBAM” performance management dashboards to track student and school progress and identify areas for improvement. School leaders often use survey responses to learn more information about trends they see in the dashboards, such as unequal (or disproportionate) suspensions based on student race/ethnicity, gender, grade-level, English learner status, or special education status. Looking at groups of student responses to survey questions like “I have been treated badly based on my race/ethnicity or background” and “my teachers treat me with respect” based on student characteristics helps school leaders focus on groups or grades of students in their school where there are areas of student-identified concerns.

Attendance – identifying possible reasons for absence and lateness

School leaders use responses to questions about traveling to school, safety in the hallways/bathrooms, bullying, and feeling welcome in school to identify possible reasons why students are late/absent from school.  The parent survey asks parents how much of a challenge these different situations are in supporting their child attending school: family responsibilities, feeling safe at school, chronic or ongoing medical issues, public transportation, District-provided transportation, and safety of the child’s walking route. The student survey gives students an opportunity to identify challenges that may limit their on-time attendance, including attendance challenges like “I am bullied at school,” “I feel welcome in school,” “I feel safe in my classes,” and “I feel safe in the hallways and bathrooms.” The teacher survey also provides information about bullying, whether the school communicates the importance of attendance, and student behavior and discipline.  School teams track responses from all stakeholder surveys in these areas and identify targeted responses to address student, teacher, and parent concerns about attendance challenges.


Community/Partner Examples

READ by 4th – Strategically directing capacity across the city

Read by 4th is a citywide campaign working with a coalition of partners to achieve the goal that all children in Philadelphia read on grade level by the time they enter 4th grade. Read by 4th uses parent/guardian survey responses as one measure of the success of the citywide campaign. For example, the parent/guardian survey includes questions like “How often does your child read by him/herself outside of school?” and “How often does your child read with an adult outside of school?”  Results also help to inform which neighborhoods could benefit most from community reading captain volunteers who train parents in techniques that support literacy development. Additionally, questions about attendance challenges, help guide Read by 4th’s approaches toward supporting attendance best practices, leveraging the support of the coalition’s 100+ partner organizations. One result of this effort was the Attendance Toolkit.

Promise Neighborhood – Assessing service delivery and evaluating outcomes

The West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood is a US Department of Education-funded program to support “cradle to career opportunities for children living in or attending one of the 7 schools in the West Philadelphia Promise Zone. The program seeks to improve education, health, and economic success for children, their families, and communities. Questions from the parent survey are an important way to identify potential gaps in programming. For example, parents are asked: “Do you have internet at home,” “Is healthy food available in your neighborhood” and “How often do you buy or choose healthy food for you and your family.” These responses are also used to fulfill grant reporting requirements. Because these questions are asked of all parents, not just those residing in the Promise Neighborhood zone, The Promise Neighborhood is able to compare the responses of parents/guardians within their region to responses of parents/guardians in other neighborhoods not serviced by the Promise Neighborhood.

Community Schools – Determining gaps in communication and awareness of available programs

Community Schools are public schools where a full-time coordinator works with the entire school community – students, parents, teachers, administrators, service providers, and neighbors – to identify the community’s most pressing needs, such as expanded medical services, after-school programming, and job training.  The coordinator then works with service providers and City agencies to bring these targeted resources directly into the school. The Community Schools team use responses from the parent survey to track changes in availability and awareness of community services over time. For example, parents are asked to indicate yes, no, or don’t know to questions such as “My child’s school offers help finding and/or applying for jobs.”; “…help learning English,” and “…help applying for social services.” Parent/guardian responses to these questions help the Community Schools team determine  whether they need to dedicate more efforts to outreach and promoting awareness of available services. Analysis of responses at community schools compared to other schools in the same zip code or region also help identify where gaps in service exist.

Informed parents – accessing information that informs and empowers

Parents groups, including a community of new mothers in South Philadelphia, use the district-wide survey to better understand how other parents view the schools where they might choose to send their children.  Answers to questions such as “I am pleased with the quality of education my child’s school is providing for my child” and “Adults at my child’s school treat my child with respect” are an informative supplement to other pieces of information such as test score averages, behavioral incident counts and enrollment trends.