Frequently Asked Questions
Please click on the topic area below to find answers to frequently asked questions about the EDSCLS. If you would like to search this page with key words related to your question, select "Expand All" and then select Ctrl-F if you are a PC user or Command-F if you are a Mac user.
No, you do not need permission to use the EDSCLS or reference it. The EDSCLS is available to anyone who wants to use it. Users are not required to register or provide their information to use the EDSCLS.
Yes, the EDSCLS includes four surveys, one for each of four respondent groups: students in grades 5–12, their parents or guardians, and the instructional staff and noninstructional staff (including principals) in their schools.
Modifying or removing survey questions could potentially affect the psychometric properties of the EDSCLS scales. Specifically, the questions that are offered in the EDSCLS are intended to produce psychometrically validated scales, and it is crucial for the statistical validity of those scales that all questions remain in the survey. Therefore, users should not alter the questions that are currently part of the EDSCLS.
Yes, the platform allows users to add questions, in the same multiple-choice format, to the end of the surveys. The platform will not provide any reporting on these additional questions. However, users can export the data files and perform additional analysis and reporting outside of the system. It is not possible to import data from additional questions into a data collection. See User Guide 2.2.6 New Survey Items for additional information.
The platform can be hosted at the state-, district-, or school-level. If the platform is set up at the state level, data can be reported at the state-, district-, or school-level. Platforms set up at the district-level report aggregated data for the district and for each individual school within the district. Platforms set up at the school-level will report data for each individual school separately.
The EDSCLS require a high-speed internet connection with at least 2 Mbps upload and download speeds and a static IP and URL to which to bind the website hosting the survey. See User Guide 2.1 System Setup in Virtual Environment (for IT Staff) for more information.
Note: It must be emphasized that you cannot expect to install VirtualBox with the EDSCLS virtual machine on another virtual machine provisioned from within the VMWare environment. That would constitute a virtual machine inside a virtual machine, which is not supported. To use VirtualBox, it must be installed on a physical server that does not have another hypervisor installed (such as VMWare or Hyper-V).
- Choose and contact your cloud service provider in plenty of time before you plan to launch the survey(s).
- Confirm with your cloud service provider that the EDSCLS platform and data will be in an appropriately secured environment, to ensure its confidentiality and security.
Note: EDSCLS helpdesk does not offer technical assistance for platforms installed on cloud-based physical servers.
The surveys cover a wide range of topics related to school climate, including questions concerning school engagement, school safety, and school environment. The surveys do not ask about the personal experiences of individuals, but rather, asks about perceptions of safety, student engagement, and environment at the school. You can view all the survey items here.
The length of time ranges per survey. The student, instructional, and noninstructional staff surveys take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete and the parent/guardian survey takes about 10 to 15 minutes.
You can. However, the EDSCLS is designed to be a suite of surveys to establish a baseline of school climate across all relevant stakeholder groups. We recommend the administration of the surveys to all respondent groups to obtain the most comprehensive picture of the school’s climate.
While local needs and context may vary, it is recommended that the surveys be administered sometime during the spring so that respondents have close to an entire school year to reference. All surveys should be administered during the approximately same time period across schools and respondent groups.
The EDSCLS platform is 508 compliant and is programmed so that the student and parent/guardian surveys can be completed in either English or Spanish. Schools should consider providing the same special accommodations to students as those provided in other assessments (e.g., translation services, extended time, and magnification devices). A makeup date should be set up for absent students as well as those who do not finish the survey during the originally scheduled time. Each school or district is free to schedule this session at their convenience, as long as it falls within the survey administration window.
Note: The EDSCLS survey is not specifically designed to accommodate students with severe cognitive disabilities who typically require alternative assessments. Consider whether these students should be ineligible.
We recommend a universe data collection to provide the most complete picture of school climate. If you would like to draw a sample for data collection, please make sure the sample is a representative portion of the population and a sampling statistician is consulted.
- Delete the data collection in question from the system (see 2.2.4 Data Collection).
- Restart your server and/or the EDSCLS virtual machine.
- Recreate the data collection and generate the usernames again.
- In older versions of the platform, problems generating usernames may be due to the length of a school name. When you add a new school and enter a school name that is more than 50 characters long, the platform is unable to generate usernames. Newer versions of the platform include a 60-character limit on school name.
- If the data collection was set up at the school level, the import feature will not be available. It is only available at the district and state level.
- Depending on the size of the import file, it may take minutes to hours to process the data for the survey results reports. We recommend waiting 24 hours after importing files before determining that the import was not successful.
- If you created a data collection to import data and saved it on the platform, you must generate at least one username for the import to work.
- If the data being imported are not in CSV file format or are not in the exact same format as the survey results CSV file exported from the platform, you may have issues with importing.
- Respondent-level data are exported and imported in CSV file format. For many users, the default program for opening CSV files is Microsoft Excel. When you export respondent-level data, open it with Excel and save it, the format of the data in certain columns is altered (e.g., Start Date, End Date, and NCES ID). This alteration will prevent files from being imported correctly into the EDSCLS platform. To avoid errors in importing and exporting data, always open and save exported data files in a text editor like WordPad or NotePad to ensure data remains in the original format.
- If you tried importing data in a file format other than CSV, you will need to create a new data collection and generate at least one username, edit your results in a text file, import them in CSV file, and then wait for 24 hours for the system to process the information before the scale scores will be generated.
- Certain Virtual Private Networks (VPN) or Internet Service Providers (ISP) may block large files. The records may need to be uploaded in smaller batches.
There may be two reasons you are having issues generating reports:
- If an item had fewer than 10 responses, frequency distributions will not be shown to protect the confidentiality of respondents and provide meaningful data; or
- If you just imported results, you may need to wait 24 hours for the system to process the information before reports will generate.
If neither of the above is true for your data collection, you can try
- exporting the raw data;
- creating a new data collection;
- generating at least one username; and
- importing your data into the new data collection to generate reports.
If that does not work, reach out to the EDSCLS Help Desk at firstname.lastname@example.org or (866) 730-6735 for assistance.
The definition for each performance level is below.
- Level 3 (Most Favorable): This benchmarked performance level indicates that respondents have the most favorable perception of this school climate domain or topic area. The score is more than400, within a possible range of 100-500, which means that the most likely answer to each positively valenced question in the scale is Strongly Agree. Likewise, the most likely answer to each negatively valenced question in the scale is Strongly Disagree.
- Level 2 (Favorable): This benchmarked performance level indicates that respondents have a favorable perception of this school climate domain or topic area. The score is 300- 400, within a possible range of 100-500, which means that the most likely answer to each positively valenced question in the scale is Agree. Likewise, the most likely answer to each negatively valenced question in the scale is Disagree.
- Level 1 (Least Favorable): This benchmarked performance level indicates that respondents have the least favorable perception of this school climate domain or topic area. The score is less than 300, within a possible range of 100-500, which means that the most likely answer to each positively valenced question in the scale is Disagree or Strongly Disagree. Likewise, the most likely answer to each negatively valenced question in the scale is Agree or Strongly Agree.
For more information about the benchmarked scale scores, including a webinar recording, please go here. The School Climate Improvement Data Interpretation Resources includes more advice for interpreting benchmarked scale scores (and other results). These resources are currently being updated to reflect the new benchmarked scale scores.) See also User Guide 6. Understanding the EDSCLS Scales.
The psychometric benchmarked scale scores are created using item parameters based on a Rasch model. The data used in the analysis are from about 100 schools across the nation collected by the EDSCLS, which includes completed student, instructional staff, and noninstructional staff data collections. Because the performance levels were not identified through averaging scores of a national sample, the performance levels should not be used as national benchmarks. For detailed information about this method, please see User Guide Appendix G of the User Guide.
Depending on which education agency is hosting the survey administration, either the state, local school district, or individual school will be responsible for the data collected.
The system will generate random usernames. If you randomly disseminate the usernames to students, parents, and staff and do not keep track of which respondent receives which username, the survey will be anonymous. Note that in the parent and staff surveys, usernames are removed from the data file, so there is no possibility of tracing responses back to an individual respondent. If an education agency plans to link student responses to existing data systems, it will need to keep track of which usernames were assigned to which students outside the EDSCLS platform. In this case, the student survey would not be anonymous. See User Guide 3.3 Dissemination of Usernames.
- Power your current EDSCLS VM off after completing your entire data collection. See User Guide, Step 11 of Subsection C under 2.1.1 Installation and Configuration for instructions. The VM can be powered back on if needed. Before conducting the next data collection, you could then download the latest version of the EDSCLS VM and use that.
- Download and reinstall the latest version of the EDSCLS VM, including exporting data from the old VM and importing data into the new VM.
- Manually apply security patches and upgrades from the EDSCLS VM terminal command line. See User Guide 2.1.5 Security Patches and Upgrades Guide for details. Note: Security patches and upgrades should NOT be applied during data collection.