Deciding Between Confidential and Anonymous Surveys

  • Updated

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 run 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 can 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.

Anonymous Surveys

Anonymous surveys may make sense for you if you don’t have clean, up-to-date data, or enough information 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 We've found that guardian email information is often out of date or non-existent in many schools' data systems, so an anonymous survey allows you to use your existing communication methods, such as social media posts,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.

Click on the tabs below to review a quick breakdown of the differences and considerations for confidential and anonymous surveys.  

  • Anonymous Surveys

    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 can hear from all members of your community through the survey.

How to Create Anonymous Surveys

  1. First, select your survey content. learn more about selecting survey content in the Panorama article, Building Your Survey Content. To ensure you can breakdown your results by demographic groups in your final reports, make sure you add demographic or background questions to your survey. 
  2. Next, choose what type of survey you want to run. For this example, select "Anonymous" (Figure 1.). Please note, the confidential option will not be available for surveys that provide student-level reporting, such as our Student Competency Measures survey. 


(Figure 1.)
  1. Next, you will need to prepare your roster file. You will need to upload a file that includes a list of all the schools in your district (Figure 2.). This will allow us to create a survey link for each school, which you can distribute to everyone who will be taking the survey. Demographics or background questions can be added as questions to your survey to be able to disaggregate your results by groups.

(Figure 2.)
  1. Next, upload your data file. Then, click "Save and continue" (Figure 3.).


(Figure 3.)


  1. Next, click the green "Approve Survey Setup" button, to begin generating your survey (Figure 4.). Once you've clicked the button, the platform will start creating the surveys and you cannot make any changes. For more information on this topic, click on the following link to access our article on Reviewing and Approving your Surveys.


(Figure 4.)
    • Note: Once approved please give the platform a few hours to complete the survey generation. You will be notified once your surveys are ready for distribution. Our team will contact you if any errors were discovered during the creation process and a member of our team will work with you to address any issues. Please give yourself some buffer time between survey setup and administration to make sure everything goes smoothly. As always, feel free to contact our support team ( with any questions or concerns about your surveys!
  1. Lastly, the survey set-up page will appear once your surveys have completed generating and are ready to be administered. The survey set-up page will show information about how your respondents can access the survey
    • For anonymous surveys with multiple templates, all survey forms will automatically collapse all survey forms from the same template into one link. You can customize the access code by clicking Edit link for the specific survey link template (Figure 5.).


(Figure 5.)
  • You can download a list of access codes for each school by clicking “Download multi-use access codes (CSV)” or expanding on the table below to see each school’s access code in the platform (Figure 6.). You’ll also be able to track response rates and close the survey to view results when available! 

Anonymous_Survey_update 2.png

(Figure 6.)
    • Take Action: To make distributing your survey simpler, share your links via text messaging systems, social media, or your school website!


For any questions reach out to your Panorama contact or so that they ensure your survey is set up correctly.


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