Here are some frequently-asked questions about the High School Survey of Student Engagement. If you have other questions, please contact the HSSSE office by phone (812-856-1813) or e-mail (HSSSE@indiana.edu) and we will be happy to answer your questions.
- What is the High School Survey of Student Engagement?
- When is the HSSSE survey administered?
- How do I register my school?
- I am not ready to register my school, but am interested. What should I do?
- We have registered for HSSSE. Now what can we expect and what do we need to do?
- What is “passive consent”?
- What is the timeline for receiving surveys, administering the survey, and receiving our data reports?
- How will the HSSSE materials be delivered to my school for the paper/pencil HSSSE?
- What will be included in the HSSSE boxes sent to my school for the paper/pencil HSSSE?
- When should we administer the survey to our students?
- How do we administer the HSSSE online?
- Can the online HSSSE be taken on a mobile device?
- What procedures need to be followed when administering the survey to our students?
- When and where should surveys and administrative sheets be returned?
- How and when do we pay for HSSSE?
- How will HSSSE keep our school data confidential?
- What will my school receive in its customized data report?
- What is a special report and how is it different from the customized school data report?
The High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE, pronounced “hessie”) is an annual survey that assesses the levels and dimensions of student engagement in the life and work of high schools, the extent to which high school students are involved in activities associated with high levels of learning and development, and the strength of the connection between students and their school community. HSSSE provides schools with rich and valuable data on students’ beliefs about learning, attitudes about their school experience, and behaviors in their learning environment.
HSSSE is offered as paper-based or web-based survey that is short, reliable, and easy for students to complete. It was created to target all students in grades 9 through 12. It identifies student behaviors and school characteristics that can be altered to enhance student learning and school effectiveness.
- Documents and describes student engagement in educationally purposeful activities.
- Provides actionable data on school characteristics that can strengthen student engagement and learning.
- Complements performance tests by adding important dimensions to the school data profile.
- Generates critical school discussions on effective teaching and learning.
- Is the most comprehensive survey on student engagement and school climate issues available to schools, and has compiled the largest national database on student engagement.
Currently, there is a Fall survey administration and a Spring survey administration.
For schools that want to capture student data early in the school year, for the purposes of creating a baseline of data, for accreditation purposes, or in order to receive data in the same school year that the students take the survey, we offer a Fall survey administration. For schools that want to capture student data after students have completed most or all of the school year, we offer the Spring survey administration.
Some schools administer the survey in both the Fall and the Spring for comparative purposes. For these schools, we provide a Fall and Spring data report; schools may request a report comparing the data from the two survey administrations at an extra cost. Contact HSSSE staff (email@example.com) for information on extra costs for special reporting.
Schools may register for the survey at any time for the current school year, starting in the summer before school starts. To register, simply go to the HSSSE website and click on the Registration button. You will be taken through a series of steps in the registration process, in which you provide information to us on your school, the survey population, and billing information. On the registration page, there is a link to a document listing the information you will be asked for during registration, so you can see – before starting the registration process – the information you will need to provide. The whole registration process should only take a few minutes.
Fill out an interest form on the HSSSE website, and we will provide updates periodically as well as answer any questions you may have.
Once your school is registered, you will receive an email preparing the school to administer the survey and with survey shipping information. Schools are responsible for providing parents and guardians information about the survey prior to administering the survey, including the option to not participate (this is called “passive consent”). More information on “passive consent” is available below, as well as in the “Human Subjects” section on the HSSSE website. Schools are also responsible for distributing and administering the surveys to the students, and returning the completed surveys to the HSSSE office (return shipping costs are included within the survey fees).
It is important for schools to orient faculty and staff to HSSSE. Familiarizing teachers with the survey ahead of time – the purposes and the process – will aid in the administration of the survey and also begin the process of involving the school community in a discussion of student engagement at your school.
Schools need to inform parents and guardians that students will be taking the survey, and it is assumed that parents/guardians have provided consent unless they withdraw their child from participation – this is known as “passive consent.” Parents/guardians need to notify the school only if they do NOT want their child to participate in HSSSE. Here is a short paragraph that your school can use to notify parents/guardians about their child’s participation in the survey. This notification can be done by school website, school newsletter, memo sent home, or another means normally used to communicate with parents/guardians. Here is some sample language:
“(Insert the name of your high school) will participate in the High School Survey of Student Engagement, which will be administered in Fall, 2013. More than 400,000 students across over 40 states participated in the survey from 2006-2013. The survey assesses the extent to which students are involved in a variety of educational activities, and will help teachers and administrators design school improvement initiatives. Individual students will not be identified on the surveys, and participation in the survey is voluntary. If you have any questions, please contact (insert school contact name).”
Let us know if you have any questions about this issue.
Please respect parents’ concerns about HSSSE and the voluntary nature of the survey for students. Feel free to contact the HSSSE office if you have any questions regarding passive consent.
For schools registered for the paper/pencil survey administration, surveys and materials are shipped to your school within a week after we receive your completed registration. For schools registered for the online survey administration, materials and the survey link will be emailed to the school’s HSSSE contact person at least one week prior to the start of survey administration.
Schools can administer the paper/pencil survey at their discretion any time after receiving the materials. However, setting the date in advance ensures that other things do not interfere with this process. For the Fall paper/pencil administration, schools need to ship all completed surveys to the HSSSE office before December 15th. For the Spring administration, schools need to ship all completed surveys to the HSSSE office before June 1st. Schools using the online survey will need to have all students complete the survey before December 15th for the Fall administration and by June 1st for the Spring administration. It is essential that schools stay on the timeline, since all surveys must be scanned and the data entered into a database before report generation can begin. If you find you need more time than is allotted, please contact our office and we will do our best to accommodate your school’s needs.
Once all paper/pencil surveys are received in our office, we sort the surveys, scan the survey forms, and enter the open responses into the database. We then check the data carefully before beginning to create the school data reports. This process can take anywhere from 4 to 6 weeks, after which you will receive an electronic copy of your data report.
If your school would like to participate in the survey but need the data earlier or later, please contact the HSSSE office; we will do our best to work with you and your school’s particular needs.
Fall Survey AdministrationTimeline Overview:
- August – December: Surveys are shipped to schools within one week after completing registration.
- December 15th: All completed surveys are to be shipped to the HSSSE office.
- December 16-January 30: HSSSE team members scan and process your school’s data.
- February: Individual school data reports are created and sent to participating schools.
Spring Survey Administration Timeline Overview:
- January-May: Surveys are shipped to schools within one week of registration
- June 1: All completed surveys are to be shipped to the HSSSE office.
- June 2: HSSSE team members scan and process your school’s data.
- July: Individual school data reports are created and sent to participating schools.
We ship surveys from our office by FedEx Ground. When surveys are shipped from our office, we will send an e-mail to the school contact person to alert him/her that the surveys are on the way. Boxes of surveys are tracked electronically to your school’s door and a signature is required for delivery. Note that if your shipment requires more than one box of materials, the boxes will be shipped together and numbered (1 of 3, 2 of 3, etc.).
For the online HSSSE, all materials are sent electronically to the school's HSSSE contact person.
We will ship to you surveys for the number of students in your survey population (which you indicate on your registration). You will also receive administration instructions and information for school personnel, as well as instructions for returning completed surveys to the HSSSE office.
In the boxes you receive, you will find:
- A cover sheet with instructions about surveys, survey materials, and returning completed surveys to the HSSSE office
- Surveys (wrapped in packages of 25) for the number of students in the survey population at the time you registered, plus a small amount of extra surveys
- One copy of the "Information for survey participants" (please photocopy and make available to students)
- Survey administration instruction/comment sheets for school personnel administering the survey (one per classroom)
- Envelopes in which students will place their completed surveys (one per classroom)
- FedEx return labels for shipping completed surveys back to the HSSSE office
When to give the survey during the school day is a local decision. Some schools administer the survey in homeroom, some in subject specific classes, and some select a certain class period in which the survey is administered school-wide.
Although the survey usually takes students about 30 minutes to complete, extra time may need to be given for students with special needs or ELL students. Don’t forget to allow time to give instructions and distribute materials. We suggest that at least 45 minutes (total) be allotted for survey administration.
Schools participating in the online HSSSE will be provided with a school-specific URL to access the survey. Schools will need to indicate on the registration form the date on which they would like to start surveying their students--if taking the fall HSSSE, anytime between August 1st to December 1st; if taking the spring HSSSE, anytime between January 1st to May 15th. The survey URL will remain open for access for two weeks after the start date (or for longer if needed, contact HSSSE staff to request additional time). During these two weeks, students may take the survey at any point during the school day, in any class, as the school decides. HSSSE staff recommends having a schedule set for when the students are taking the survey as a way of tracking which students are absent on survey dates; some schools find it convenient to survey all students during their study hall, homeroom, or advisory period, as these are typically taken by all students.
Please note that only completed surveys will be counted with the online HSSSE; students may skip questions if they wish, but must reach the final page to submit their answers. Please be sure that all students and teachers are aware of this requirement.
The online HSSSE may be taken on an iPad, iPhone, or Android. The system will detect the mobile device and apply a special template to the survey for easier viewing. However, the HSSSE is intended to be taken during school hours in the presence of survey proctor (school staff member, such as teacher or assistant).
- Instruction/comment sheets for those administering the surveys have been provided for the number of classroom teachers involved with administration of the survey (indicated on the registration form).
- Each student must be given access to the "Information for survey participants". They should have time to review the sheets and/or have the information read to them. This sheet explains the purpose of the survey, the usefulness of students’ responses, and notes that participation is voluntary. Thus, if for any reason students do not wish to complete the survey, they are not required to do so. These sheets do not need to be returned with the surveys (consider recycling the extras!).
- Please ask students to use a black or blue ink pen or number two pencil on the survey. If a student using pen makes a mistake, instruct them "X" out the mistake.
- The HSSSE staff advocates giving all students an opportunity to take part in the survey and supports providing accommodations to students who regularly receive them.
- Please instruct those administering the survey to have students place their completed surveys in the return envelopes provided. It is important to maintain the anonymity of the student responses.
- Finally, we ask those administering the survey to please take a few minutes to complete the questions on the orange sheet titled “Survey Administration Instructions” while students take the survey. Your comments are greatly appreciated; they will help us improve survey administration in the future. Enclose these sheets with your student surveys, seal the envelope, and return the envelope to your school’s designated contact or to the main office.
For schools administering the online HSSSE:
- Instruction sheets for those administering the surveys have been provided to the school's HSSSE contact person who is responsible for ensuring that each teacher involved with administration of the survey receives a copy.
- The "Information for survey participants" will appear to each student after opening the survey link provided to the school.
- Schools are responsible for collecting, packing, and returning completed surveys and instruction/comment sheets to the HSSSE office. If the boxes that you received the surveys in are still in good shape, use those boxes to ship completed surveys back to us; otherwise, use any available boxes.
- All completed surveys from your school should be packed together and returned in a single shipping. This will reduce the possibility of errors or misplacement of surveys.
- Unused surveys do not need to be returned (consider recycling the extras!).
When you register for HSSSE, you provide us with billing contact information. After we receive the completed registration, we will generate an invoice within one week and send it out to your school’s billing contact person for payment. We do not need to have a purchase order to proceed with billing. However, if your school needs to generate a purchase order prior to receiving an invoice from us, you will indicate that on the registration form; in that case, email (HSSSE@indiana.edu) or fax (812.856.5890) your purchase order or requisition form to the HSSSE office. (Note: You can also send it to us at 1900 East 10th Street - CEEP, Bloomington, IN 47406), and we will send you an invoice within a week of receiving both your purchase order and your registration information.
When filling out purchase orders, requisitions and checks, the vendor is Indiana University, which acts on behalf of HSSSE. As such, checks should be made payable to Indiana University, not HSSSE. Please remember to note your "Customer Number" (this is located in the upper left-hand corner of your invoice), "Invoice Number" (this is located in the upper right-hand corner of your invoice), and school name on all forms of payment.
- If your Internet browser is out of date, you may get this message: "The Internet site you are trying to view uses a security certificate that was signed by an unknown authority. This page cannot be viewed." These pages are best viewed using Internet Explorer version 6.0 and above or Netscape version 7.0 and above.
- It is important for you to protect against unauthorized access to your registration information. Be sure to click on the "Close Window" button at the end of the registration process to prevent unauthorized access.
- HSSSE project staff will use the data in the aggregate for national and sector reporting purposes and other school improvement initiatives, but schools will never be ranked, or identified in any way.
- HSSSE staff may also make data, in which individual schools cannot be separately identified, available to researchers interested in studying the high school experience. Individual schools can use HSSSE data for their own purposes.
- HSSSE staff will not release individual school results that can be identified as such without prior consent from the school.
You will receive a customized report of your data compared to HSSSE public schools and HSSSE non-public schools participating in the same administration. In this report, you will find:
- Section I: Executive Summary- provides an overview of survey respondents, along with selected and key findings.
- Section II: Introduction
- Section III: Using HSSSE Data- provides tips on using your school’s data.
- Section IV: Means Comparisons- provides comparisons of mean responses to survey questions between students in your school and the respondents in all other HSSSE public and non-public schools.
- Section V: Dimensions of Engagement- provides comparisons of means within three critical dimensions of engagement measured on the survey: Cognitive/Academic/Intellectual Engagement, Social/Behavioral/Participatory Engagement, and Emotional Engagement.
- Appendix A: Frequencies- overview of your school’s responses compared to those of HSSSE public schools and HSSSE non-public schools.
- Appendix B: Graphs- provides graphs of student responses in your high school compared to responses from HSSSE public schools and HSSSE non-public schools; these graphs may be useful in planning and/or presentations of the data.
- Appendix C: Open Responses- provides responses of students in your school to the open response questions on the HSSSE. Note that names of people referenced by students in their comments will be removed.
Each participating school will receive a customized report comparing its data with data from all other HSSSE schools in a given administration. In addition, HSSSE can create special reports if your school, district, or consortium would like an additional or different set of analyses.
There is an additional charge for special reports, based on the complexity of the report requested. For example, you can get a report that combines the information in a district, state, or partnership for the current year. Or you might want to have a report that compares your data to schools that are similar to yours on a set of demographic characteristics. Sometimes schools that have taken the survey annually have requested special longitudinal reports that compare responses over the course of multiple years. If you are interested in special data reports for your school, please contact the HSSSE office to discuss costs and content.