Student Engagement Surveys

Student engagement is key to building a safe, positive, and creative school culture that increases achievement and decreases boredom, alienation, and drop-out rates.

In 2011, the NAIS Commission on Accreditation added a requirement to its Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation that asks schools undergoing accreditation to provide evidence of a thoughtful process of collecting and using student learning data.

As a result of the new accreditation requirement, NAIS partnered with Indiana University's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy (CEEP) to conduct a three-year study on the use of the High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) with independent school students. Since that time, hundreds of independent schools have participated in HSSSE in order to gather data about the attitudes, perceptions and beliefs of students about their school work, the school learning environment, and their interaction with the school community.

Participating schools have used the results to:

  • Change or modify class sizes
  • Modify classroom management and instruction techniques
  • Provide more differentiated instruction
  • Increase student‐counselor visits
  • Assess the presence of bullying in their school
  • Create a safer and kinder school culture
  • Identify professional development needs on student engagement
  • Identify engagement gaps among students by race & ethnicity and/or gender
  • Understand how students spent their time in school work and extracurricular activities
  • Identify student participation in school-sponsored activities
  • Evaluate student interaction with the school community
  • Create marketing/admission materials

NAIS and Indiana University are also pleased to offer the Middle Grades Survey of Student Engagement (MGSSE) to help schools gather data from students in grades 5 to 9. Data from middle grade students is particularly important given that research indicates that middle school grades are a critical time period for students where student engagement often declines.

To encourage participation, NAIS is subsidizing the costs of participation for independent schools. This makes HSSSE and MGSSE a very affordable way to gather data. 

When Your School Can Take the Survey

Registration for the Spring 2024 survey administration is open! 
  • January 8: Spring Registration Begins
  • January 15: Spring Survey Administration Begins
  • May 17: Spring Survey Registration Closes
  • May 31: Spring Survey Administration Ends
  • End of August 2024: Schools Receive Reports
Register Now

Get Survey Updates

If you want to be notified about future administration dates or would like to stay informed about the Student Engagement surveys, sign up here.

User's Guide and Toolkit

The User’s Guide and Toolkit for the Surveys of Student Engagement: The High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE) and the Middle Grades Survey of Student Engagement (MGSSE) contains essential information for school administrators interested in administering HSSSE or MGSSE. The guide explains why student engagement is important and provides steps and strategies that will help you prepare for and launch the surveys, interpret your school’s numbers, and use them to drive improvement.

Use the links below to download PDFs of the guide in full or by chapter. This valuable resource is available to all NAIS member schools.

Why This Survey Matters

The actionable data your school receives as a survey participant is useful for a variety of purposes, including:

  • Accountability
  • Accreditation self-studies
  • Assessment and improvement (helping answer the question, “How can we do better?”); as part of a School Improvement Process
  • Benchmarking
  • Communication with internal and external stakeholders
  • Examining trends or changes over time
  • General education reform
  • Institutional advancement
  • Staff development
  • Stimulating discussions about teaching and learning

How the Survey Works

HSSSE and MGSSE are offered online or as paper surveys. High school and middle grade students will need approximately 15 to 20 minutes to complete them.

What Your School Receives

Once the information is tabulated, you will receive a comprehensive, user-friendly report that describes your students’:

  • cognitive/intellectual/academic engagement
  • social/behavioral/participatory engagement
  • emotional engagement

The report also provides comparisons to other participating independent schools.


Survey Participation/User Fee
Nonrefundable participation fee to cover the costs of data analysis and reporting
$400 for either HSSSE or MGSSE
$700 for both surveys
Survey Fee
Per-student fee, based on the number of students participating in the survey
Online survey
Paper/pencil survey


Hard copy report fee

Longitudinal report fee (available to schools that have participated in more than one administration of the HSSSE survey)

Special analysis fee





Email Us

See the CEPR-NAIS website for more information, including registration and frequently asked questions.

If you have questions or need assistance, please email us ([email protected]).