The CSSS is based on research about the most pressing needs of schools today and on feedback from teachers and administrators. It includes a wide range of questions about key learning and teaching conditions, barriers, and supports. Underlying its development is research and theory demonstrating that high student achievement and staff job satisfaction are linked to school environments that are supportive, challenging (rigorous with high expectations), caring, participatory (staff and student involvement in meaningful decision-making and activities), safe, and healthy.
The CSSS consists of a general Core Module targeting all staff, and of two, topic-specific modules for staff with specific responsibilities related to learning supports. A custom module can also be created with questions that assess additional areas of concern for individual schools or districts. Detailed information about the CSSS content can be found in the Survey Content Guidebook (pdf).
The Core Survey for All Staff
The Core (all-staff) Module consists of 116 questions, covering topics such as:
- Background information about the characteristics of the survey respondents;
- School norms, standards, and expectations that promote achievement, including the rigor and relevance of instruction, shared sense of responsibility for school improvement, and parent involvement;
- Facilities maintenance;
- Staff-student relationships and opportunities for meaningful student participation;
- Fostering equity, respect, and cultural sensitivity;
- Staff and student safety;
- Teaching/working environment (supports, collaboration, and professionalism);
- Staff professional development needs;
- The nature, communication, and enforcement of school rules/policies related to discipline;
- Perceptions of student behaviors and how they affect the school (e.g., attendance, motivation to learn, violence, bullying, substance use, mental health, and physical health).
Background questions cover respondent’s role at the school (e.g., teacher, administrator, counselor, nurse), length of service at the school and in the profession, and race/ethnicity. This enables assessment of the degree to which the survey sample is representative of all staff, as well as and analysis of the data by key subgroups in order to determine if and how perceptions vary among them.
Learning Supports Module
In the 22-item Learning Supports Module (LSM), staff responsible for providing any services or instruction related to health, prevention, discipline, safety, or counseling are asked about the scope and nature of their programs and services. This module helps schools determine the degree to which they provide resources, strategies, and practices that foster the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual supports that enable all their students to succeed in school.
Among the areas assessed are:
- Efforts to address the developmental needs of youth and to foster resilience and character;
- Discipline, campus security, and violence and bullying prevention;
- Substance use prevention and intervention;
- Service referral and community collaboration; and
- Physical education, nutrition, and health delivery.