Independent School Health Check

Independent schools want to provide a healthy and safe environment in which all students can thrive. To create effective supports and partnerships that facilitate student and community success, NAIS now offers the Independent School Health Check (ISHC) to members.

The Independent School Health Check is a comprehensive survey instrument developed to evaluate middle and high school student behavior and attitudes, including risk and protective factors, such as:
  • Nutrition and sleep
  • Sexual activity (for middle school, questions ask about students’ perceptions of the sexual activity of peers, but not the activity of the survey-taker)
  • School connection, social life, and help-seeking behaviors
  • Alcohol, substance, and internet use and misuse
  • Parental engagement
  • Academic pressure, motivation, and honesty
As an added benefit, schools can add up to five customized questions to get data specific to their concerns.

Analysis provides composite scores on measures of risk and protection, and participants receive conclusions for their school based on statistical comparisons with the national ISHC dataset. These data provide important insight into the well-being of your students and can help you better facilitate support in your school. Understanding and mediating student well-being is an element of good practice that also can help lighten the load on teachers, who often manage student mental health challenges on their own. [1]

 Source: “Student and Teacher Wellness Amid COVID-19,” NAIS, 2020

Schools have used ISHC data to:
  • Benchmark against peer institutions
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of current programming, such as health curriculum, special programs, and counseling services
  • Develop effective programming for student support
  • Facilitate productive conversations between parents, students, and administrators
  • Establish and normalize a culture that centers well-being and difficult conversations

How it Works

The ISHC is a comprehensive evaluation tool, and planning is an important part of the survey process. The ISHC provides thorough guidelines and associated resources, including communication templates, to ensure high-quality data collection and a smooth administration process for participants.

This survey instrument is protected by the copyright and other intellectual property laws of the United States. No part of this survey instrument may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, copied in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, etc.), or otherwise transmitted or distributed without written permission from the publisher, except as provided by United States of America copyright law.

When Your School Can Take the Survey

The survey takes about 45 minutes to complete. Scheduling one hour will allow time for the proctors and students to take care of instructions and sign in. The survey can be administered during one of two sessions during the academic year: 
  • Fall semester: October 4, 2021-November 19, 2021 (the last day to register for the fall survey administration is October 21)
  • Spring semester: February 7, 2022-May 6, 2022
Surveys are conducted during the school day on weekdays, not evenings or weekends, to assure good proctoring and IT backup.  

Survey Process Overview

Reviewing the Survey and Planning

  • Review of survey items with a committee of appropriate faculty and staff, such as counselors, nurses, and health educators.
  • Participating sites will appoint a survey manager from within the school to manage the planning and administration of the survey, as well as the review of findings provided by NAIS. Schools also are encouraged to appoint a planning committee to assist with the administration process. The survey manager oversees:
    • Planning survey administration, including timeline, design of additional questions, and troubleshooting challenges as they arise.
    • Preparing the school community, including getting written consent from parents and guardians, presenting information about the survey to students and getting their consent to be surveyed, communicating about the survey with teachers, and preparing proctors for administration. The ISHC provides templates for communications to parents, school staff, and students about the survey, as well as guidance for responding to parent inquiries about the survey.
    • Managing survey administration, including verifying computer capacity, working with relevant IT administrators to facilitate online data collection, and handling interruptions if they arise during the data collection block.
The survey is administered to all students online during an in-person, proctored administration block. Schools are encouraged to perform all data collection in one sitting, like an assembly or study hall, to ensure high-quality responses with minimal disturbance. Individual survey responses are confidential and will remain anonymous.

After Data Collection and Survey Pricing

The cost for the standard survey report is $3,000. The two-part report includes:
  • Part I: Aggregate Survey responses. These are shared within a week of taking your survey.
  • Part II: Statistical Analysis report. This is shared within a month of survey administration and includes: 
    • Analysis of each question by gender and grade level.
    • Comparisons to the ISHC database and conclusions noting statistically significant differences between school results and the ISHC database. The ISHC database includes responses from more than 25,000 students across 60 high schools, and 4,445 middle school students across 31 schools.
    • Composite scores on school connectedness, motivation, parental engagement, drinking, and academic pressure.
    • For a preview of report structure, click here.
In addition to the report, the school’s survey manager will receive data-sharing and summary worksheets to facilitate the presentation of findings to the community.

Payment Policy

The school agrees to pay NAIS a $3,000 (three thousand USD) fee for the ISHC Survey and services to be provided, as described above. NAIS will invoice the school upon completion and upload of the Part II Standard Report to the IHSC interface. Payment is due to NAIS within thirty (30) days of receipt of invoice.

If a school wishes to cancel their participation in the Independent School Health Check Survey after the agreement is signed, they may do so in writing at no penalty if work has not yet begun to create and/or launch the survey. If work has begun in creating and/or launching the survey but the survey has not yet been administered, a school may cancel their participation in writing, but NAIS at its sole discretion reserves the right to charge a $300 administrative fee. If the survey has been administered and work on the report has begun, no cancellation is allowed and the full $3,000 fee will be owed upon delivery of the Standard Report. 

How to Register

  • Schools new to the ISHC can register here.
  • Schools that have used the ISHC and would like to participate again can sign in here.


General Questions About ISHC
Amada Torres
VP Studies, Insights, and Research
National Association of Independent Schools
(202) 973-9765
[email protected]

Questions on Survey Administration and Technical Support
Kathleen Lorenzen
Study Director
Center for Survey Research, Indiana University
(812) 855-3849
[email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What can the Independent School Health Check help me do?
Student wellness is at the core of a school’s ability to fulfill its mission—healthy students are more able to thrive academically and grow as individuals, and there many positive and negative factors that impact student wellness. Knowing how those factors impact students in your specific context can help school leaders prioritize and shape cost-effective initiatives to bolster well-being for their students.
What if the results of the survey are negative?
Getting specific quantitative and qualitative data is an important way to ground the student wellness conversation with your community, and can help confirm or challenge the assumptions made about the lives of students. Indeed, many communities find that what has been believed to be true—the extent of drug use, for example—often dramatically overestimates the numbers involved. The objective of the survey is to focus on the real issues students experience, and any problem areas that emerge can be addressed in an educational way.
Can I preview the survey questions and the administration manual?
Decision-makers may be given access to the survey link to review the questions by emailing [email protected]. Previewing the survey with the appropriate stakeholders can help schools make an informed decision about the usefulness of the data for their school.
To download the administration manual, click here.
What if parents do not want their children to take the survey?
The ISHC should be administered according to the legal and ethical standards prescribed for surveys. Parents should be notified of the survey and be asked to contact the survey administrator if they do not wish their child to participate; this format is called "passive consent." While you may provide additional education on the importance of the survey to a parent/legal guardian, their decision to opt their child out of the survey must be respected.
The ISHC offers communication materials and templates to help respond to parent concerns about the survey. To avoid opportunities for influence of student response, we do not recommend providing open access to survey questions.
What if students do not want to take the survey?

Students must be informed that they may opt out of the survey by notifying the Survey Manager and that during the survey administration, they may skip any questions they do not wish to answer. Prior to administering the survey, you must obtain a signed consent form from each participating student which reiterates that participation is voluntary and they may skip any question they do not wish to answer.
Can any student be identified from their responses?

No. Individual survey responses are confidential and will remain anonymous. No student can be identified, nor can any responses be linked to any individual student in the Standard Report provided to your school. Individual survey responses will be aggregated and your school will be provided with group data only.
[1] Carol Bernate, “Student and Teacher Wellness Amid COVID-19,” NAIS, November, 2020; online at