How ERB Collects Data to Measure Student Well-Being in the School Community

To perform at their best, students need to be engaged and feel a strong sense of fairness and belonging in their school community. In recent years, the number of students struggling with mental health challenges has increased at an alarming rate as they face pressures resulting from social media, the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, and other factors. According to a 2021 advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General, this has become a public health crisis that schools have both a moral obligation and a powerful opportunity to address. 

ERB created the Check-In Survey—a 15-question tool designed to measure student well-being within the school context—in response to educator concerns following the return to classrooms after extended remote learning during the pandemic. ERB partnered with Character Lab, a nonprofit organization that works to advance student well-being and success through scientific insights, to build the three-pronged survey, which draws on the organization’s Student Thriving Index. 

Schools can deploy the survey to students in Grades 3-12 at multiple points of their choosing during the school year to track trends and identify individuals and groups who need additional support.

3 Components of Student Well-Being at School

At ERB, we measure students’ overall well-being through three key facets: emotional well-being, academic engagement, and sense of fairness and belonging in the school community. 

Emotional Well-Being

The ERB Check-In Survey gauges students’ emotional well-being by looking at their subjective experiences of positive and negative emotions, such as happiness and sadness. The survey also asks about relative stress levels and students’ overall perceptions of the quality of their lives. 

ERB research recently revealed that emotional well-being can change significantly as a student moves through adolescence and that girls generally score lower on emotional well-being than boys in Grades 4-8. 

Academic Engagement

A student’s academic engagement includes their interest in learning, their perception of whether they can succeed in school, and their sense that their teachers care about and respect them. ERB and outside research found that academic engagement declines steadily starting around Grade 6.

Fairness and Belonging 

Students thrive in environments that they perceive as being fair and inclusive. That means they feel they are treated fairly by their peers, teachers, and staff and are comfortable being themselves in the school environment. Our research shows that a sense of belonging at school is crucial for students of color, who are more likely to experience declines in well-being and academic engagement if they believe they do not fit in.

A study of 14 schools that piloted the ERB Check-In Survey revealed that fairness and belonging are the foundation of a student’s relationship to the school community. Any factors that increase a student’s sense of belonging will also increase their emotional well-being and their engagement with the school’s academic program.

How ERB’s Check-In Survey Works

ERB’s Check-In Survey maximizes simplicity to make administration of the tool quick and easy.

The survey takes less than 10 minutes to administer. It presents 15 statements (five statements for each of the three components) and asks students to rate their agreement with each.

Sample statement: “I feel like I can be myself at school.” 

Possible responses: Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Neither Agree Nor Disagree, Agree, and Strongly Agree

[READ: What Data from the ERB Check-In Survey Tell Us About Student Well-Being at School]

Check-In Survey Reporting Tools

Educators and school leaders can view survey results and the results of other ERB assessments in the ERB 360 Access portal, which highlights trends at the individual, grade, and school levels.

Summary Data by Domain: The dashboard on ERB 360 Access includes summary data at the school level or grade level, plus sortable data on all items included in the survey.

Item Analysis: The Item Analysis section of the Dashboard lists all the items in the survey, along with the items’ numerical average (where 1=low and 5=high) and the percentage of students who selected each response.

Student Roster: The Student Roster report shows individual student results for the components of Emotional Well-Being, Fairness and Belonging, and Academic Engagement.

Trend Data: The Trend Report shows data for multiple administrations of the Check-In Survey for all grades, multiple grades, or a single grade across an entire school year.

Cross-Program: A data visualization for each individual student provides a personalized interpretative summary for that student’s profile of scores, which may include the Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP) by ERB, Milestones interim assessments, SelfWise, and the Check-In Survey.

Recent Changes to the Check-In Survey

ERB released a new version of the Check-In Survey in August 2023. Important upgrades include:

  1. The expanded survey is now open to students in Grades 3 and 12 in addition to the original cohort of Grades 4-11. This better aligns survey data with the insights from the other components of ERB’s Whole Child Solution
  2. Updated statements in the emotional well-being category are more relatable and accessible to elementary school students.
  3. A new item about stress adds clarity and insight into the causes of student stress. 
  4. Revised teacher scripts make the survey experience more fluid and understandable for younger students. 

Starting in spring 2024, educators will be able to add items of their own design to the 15 existing items in the survey, allowing them to dive deeper into school-specific concerns. 

Bridging the Gap Between Well-Being and Academic Performance

Educators can better understand the whole child with data that helps them understand what students need to thrive individually and academically. 

With ERB’s Check-In Survey and our Whole Child Solution, you can gain the information you need to meet students where they are — and to help them move forward.


Learn more or request information about ERB Check-In Survey and how it can help you measure students’ sense of academic engagement, emotional well-being, and fairness and belonging in the school community.

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