Student Development Surveys

Middle and High School Student Version

The Student Development Survey – Middle and High School Version (SDS-MH) measures students’ opinions about themselves and their school regarding areas of development along the six pathways, school climate, and attitudes towards reading and school. The SDS-MH is a 48-item survey that asks students to rate how frequently they perform particular behaviors or experience feelings described in the items. The five-point rating scale ranges from “all of the time” to “never.” The responses are coded in the following manner:  All the time=4, Most of the time=3, Sometimes=2, Once in a while=1, and Never=0.

The SDS-MH contains ten dimensions, listed in Table 1 below with the items that define them. All of the dimensions are scored in the positive direction; the higher the mean score,* the more favorable the students view it. The mean score can range from a high of 4.0 to a low of 0.0.  For example, if Student-Teacher Relationships has a mean score of 3.7, this means that most students like their teachers and feel that their teachers care about them and believe in them all or most of the time. The SDS-MH is designed for students in grade 6 to grade 12, but students in grade 5-8 schools may use it.

Before computation of the mean scores on the Safety and Attitude Towards School dimensions, items 33, 36, 37, 38, and 39 were reversed in the following manner: 0 is changed to 4, 1 is changed to 3, 2 remains 2, 3 is changed to 1, and 4 is changed to 0. 

Table 1: Student Development Survey Dimensions


Middle and High Dimensions





Ethical development
– self-control

2, 4, 12, 22


Ethical development
- empathy

3, 6, 7, 8


Language development

19, 20, 21


Psychological development

1, 10, 11, 13, 18


Cognitive development

23, 25, 26, 30, 31


Physical development

14, 15, 16, 17


Attitude toward reading

27, 28, 29


Attitude toward school

32, 33, 34, 35



36, 37, 38, 39


Student-Teacher relationship

42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48


Explanation of pathway dimensions on Student Development Survey – Middle and High Version

A statistical procedure known as Principal Factor Analysis** completed on the pilot data from responses of approximately 740 middle and high school students, grades six through twelve yielded six pathway dimensions: ethical development – self-control, ethical development- empathy, language development, psychological development, cognitive development, and physical development. The items defining the social pathway did not group together to form the relevant factor. This may be a reflection of the items selected a priori to operationalize this pathway and/or the developmental stage of the respondents.

For additional technical information, please contact Dr. Christine Emmons, Director of Program Evaluation at (203) 737-4004.

*The mean score on each subscale represents the sum of the average score of each person on the set of items defining the variable (see Table 1), divided by the number of people responding to that subscale. For example, the score of each student on each of the Student-Teacher Relationship items would be added, and then divided by the number of items (7) to obtain each student's mean score on Student-Teacher Relationship. Each student's mean score would be summed and divided by the number of students, to get the overall mean for Student-Teacher Relationship.

**Principal Factor Analysis is a procedure through which the computer groups items together to form a factor or dimension that represents how closely these items are measuring the same underlying construct.