Understanding Panorama's Survey Instruments

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Panorama offers free and open-source survey instruments grounded in advanced survey methodology and best practices. These instruments have been rigorously developed and Panorama is committed to validating, testing, and refining them over time. Schools and districts can choose from 

Survey User Guides

SEL User Guide

Take a look at each of the User Guides linked below to understand topics and decide on the right content, so that you can measure what matters.


As a best practice, please complete the survey set-up process 3 to 4 weeks prior to your intended launch date! This will give our technical teams time to troubleshoot any issues that may arise. 

Why Selecting Content Matters

All of Panorama’s instruments are designed as a series of topics, or group of questions related to a single subject area. This allows educators to customize their surveys by selecting the topics they wish to use in their school without compromising the integrity of the surveys. Aligning survey content with goal setting or strategic planning helps ensure the data gathered are as impactful as possible. 

Selecting your Panorama survey instrument will also impact the way your data will be reported. Panorama reports are have multiple levels in which your data can be viewed. You can learn more about how your survey data will be reported out in The Complete Guide to Panorama Reports. Feel free to make a copy and share out with other educators! 

Most of our scales already have a substantial body of evidence of their validity across specific contexts and uses, and we continue to collect data about all of our scales’ reliability and validity.

Additional Resources

Explore the resources below to decide which topics capture what you’d like to measure from your stakeholders.


  • How do we pick which topics to include?
    • Before selecting topics, spend some time thinking about what you’re hoping to learn and what your goals are for this project. Once you know your goals, use the resources below to select the specific areas that will best help you measure progress towards those goals.
  • How many topics should we choose?
    • Although this varies depending on your context and other factors listed below, we recommend choosing between 4 and 6 topics for each survey. Our topics contain 6 questions on average. Here are a few factors to consider when selecting your survey content:
      • Your key interests. Use what you’re hoping to learn as a guide for selecting the topics that will get you the data you need.
      • Survey length. On average, students in grades 6-12 and adults can answer three questions in a minute. A survey with five topics should take the average student or adult 10 minutes to complete.
      • Survey fatigue. Depending on how many surveys students will take, you may want to consider creating a shorter survey to avoid survey fatigue.
  • Can we include all of the topics?
    • We encourage you to focus on the topics that are most important in order to reduce survey fatigue and gather only the data that is most important. The goal of collecting this feedback is to engage your community in reflecting on and taking action based on the data. Choose 4-6 topics to obtain targeted data while also being thoughtful of your survey-takers time.
  • Can we remove questions from a topic or change wording?
    • To get the best and most accurate data, topics should be used in their entirety. Learn more about the validity of our instruments here. Utilizing Panorama topics in full also gives you access to national benchmarks, which help you contextualize your data. If you would like to proceed with editing Panorama survey content, you can convert to a custom instrument, but note that national benchmarks will no longer be viewable for any adjusted topics.
  • If I decide to do multiple surveys throughout the year, can we use different sets of topics each time?
    • Absolutely. There may be some topics that are more important or relevant at different points in the school year. But as much as possible, think about using at least some of the same topics each time so that you’re able to track change over time and learn whether perceptions are improving.
  • How will my reports look like? Are all surveys reported out the same? 
    • This is a great question! Panorama reports are have multiple levels in which your data can be viewed however, this is dependent on the type of survey you will be administering.To check out what reports may be available, please take a look at this at Panorama's Complete Guide to Your Survey Reports
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