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Strengthening Assessments of School Climate

Lessons from the New York City School Survey 

Lori Nathanson, Meghan McCormick, James J. Kemple (June 2013)

The New York City Department of Education’s (DOE) annual survey of parents, students, and teachers is the largest of its kind in the United States. The DOE relies on the survey to identify schools’ strengths and to target areas for improvement. School Survey scores, along with attendance, are also the only non-academic indicators used in the DOE’s annual Progress Reports for schools, which are used to evaluate school quality. Given these high stakes, it is important to make sure that the survey accurately captures parent, student, and teacher perspectives.

Since 2010, the Research Alliance has been working with the DOE to assess and enhance the School Survey. Using data from 2008-2010, we examined the reliability and validity of the survey’s measures, and made a number of recommendations about how the survey could be improved.

Our new brief, Strengthening Assessments of School Climate, summarizes our findings and recommendations to date. It also outlines a set of broader lessons that have emerged from our work, which can provide guidance to the growing number of cities and states around the country that are implementing school survey efforts. Finally, the brief includes a note from Lauren Sypek, the DOE’s School Survey Director, reflecting on the process of collaborating to improve the School Survey as well as some of the changes that have been made to the survey as a result of this partnership.

New York City School Survey: 2008-2010. Assessing the Reliability and Validity of a Progress Report Measure

Lori Nathanson, Micha Segeritz, Rachel Cole, Jessica Lent, Meghan McCormick, James J. Kemple

As a companion to the brief, the technical report, New York City School Survey 2008-2010, presents a detailed account of our statistical exploration of the reliability and validity of the NYC School Survey.


Lori Nathanson


Meghan McCormick

Research Associate

James Kemple

Senior Fellow; Research Professor of Teaching and Learning