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Deciding Between Confidential and Anonymous Surveys

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Panorama allows two different types of survey administrations: confidential and anonymous. While both types meet Panorama's security practices, the surveys differ in the ways that you set up and take surveys. Most schools and districts do confidential surveys since they allow for better response rate tracking and more advanced options to disaggregate results, while still ensuring the anonymity of respondents. Some of our partners use anonymous surveys to collect responses without uploading any individual data, especially for family surveys where the available contact information may not be reliable. Learn more about the types of surveys and how to make the right decision for your survey program below.

Confidential Surveys

Confidential surveys require your project team to upload a roster file that contains a list of everyone who will be taking the survey. This allows us to create a unique survey link for everyone, giving them easy access to all of their surveys. Confidential surveys allow us to disaggregate survey results by different demographic breakdowns, including ethnicity, gender, grade level, program enrollment, or other factors. This means you'll have richer reports, as we are able to incorporate demographic data from your data file without respondents having to self-report. Confidential surveys also give you the ability to track response rates and reach out directly to students who have not yet completed their surveys.

Confidential surveys are the default in Panorama's survey creation tools, so you can proceed with the standard instructions on setting up your surveys.

Survey Creation
  • You will need to upload a roster file that lists all students/staff/family members who will take the survey
  • Panorama will generate unique survey links for each individual survey-taker
Survey Taking
  • Students will go to your district or school's survey-taking link and enter their Student IDs. You may also email unique links directly to students if you include their email in the data file.
  • Staff and families will receive emails from Panorama directly with their unique survey links. If we do not have an email for a parent or guardian, they will not receive the survey link.
Benefits & Considerations Benefits of this approach:
  • We will be able to collect student-level information and generate reports about each student (for SEL surveys only)
  • Demographic data will create robust reports that support you in taking specific action based on feedback 
  • You will be able to track who has taken the survey in real time


  • Students will need to know their student IDs or have school emails to access their survey
  • Family members may not receive the survey if their email has changed or is incorrect within the school's data system.

Recommended for:
This is our recommended option for student and staff surveys, because it allows you to distribute surveys easily, closely track response rates, and ensure that you're hearing from everyone in your school community.

Anonymous Surveys

Anonymous surveys may make sense for you if you don’t have clean, up-to-date data for the group you are hoping to survey. When you run an anonymous survey, we ask you to upload a roster file that only lists the school information, so we can create surveys for each school. For example, if guardians are taking surveys about their experiences with their school, each school will have a unique survey link and family members at each school will complete their survey using the same link. 

While you won't have visibility into who has and has not completed their surveys, anonymous surveys can be really useful for groups where you don't have reliable contact information. We've found that guardian email information is often out of date or non-existent in many schools' data systems, so an anonymous survey allows you to use your existing communication methods, such as social media posts, newsletters, or text messages, to share the survey link.

Survey Creation
  • You will need to upload a roster file that lists each school participating in the survey
  • Panorama will generate survey links for each school, which can be used by all survey-takers
Survey Taking
  • You can share the survey link broadly across existing communication channels and social media
  • Individuals will use the same link to access their school's survey
Benefits & Considerations Benefits of this approach: 
  • Higher response rates due to ease of communication and access of survey


  • Harder to track response rates and follow up with specific groups
  • Demographic information will not be included in reports unless you ask survey-takers to self-report

Recommended for:
We strongly recommend anonymous surveys for family and guardian surveys, to ensure that you are able to hear from all members of your community through the survey.

How to Create Anonymous Surveys

  1. When you decide to create anonymous surveys, you will either need to reach out to your Panorama contact or support@panoramaed.com so that they can make sure your survey is set up correctly.
  2. Next, you will need to prepare your roster file. While you do not need to upload information about individuals who will be taking the survey, you will need to upload a file that includes a list of all the schools in your district. This will allow us to create a survey link for each school, which you can distribute to everyone who will be taking the survey.
  3. Make sure that you add demographic or background questions to your survey so that you will be able to disaggregate your results by group.
  4. Once your survey is live, you'll need to send out the links to ensure that individuals can access the survey.

    - You'll see that you have the ability to download "Multi-Use Access Codes" from the platform. This file contains access codes for each school's survey, which every respondent at that school can use. To make distributing your survey simpler, just add the access code to the end of your school's generic survey-taking link. (https://surveys.panoramaed.com/yourURL/accesscode) This creates a unique link that you can send using your text messaging systems, social media, or your school website!

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