The Developmental Relationships Survey

Actionable Data on Relationships, Equity, & Social Emotional Learning


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Evaluate Relationships

Measure Equity

Assess Social Emotional Learning


Sometimes our kids…

…feel disconnected or disengaged from people in and out of school

…experience inequities or trauma in their life

…feel that they do not have an identity or agency

…struggle with a sense of hopelessness

Which can result in…

…a lack of academic motivation

…participation in risky behaviors as a means of coping

…challenges with impulse control or emotional regulation

…struggles with stress management

…a lack of skills to build or maintain relationships with others

…the inability to make responsible decisions

Developmental Relationships Form the Roots of Success

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Relationships that young people have with adults in their life have a meaningful impact. In the same way that a tree’s roots need nutrients from different parts of soil to grow healthy and strong, young people grow and thrive when they have positive relationships with multiple adults in their life. Developmental relationships help young people forge identities, learn new skills, and strengthen the roots of their success, so they can withstand the storms of life. Family members, teachers, school administrators, coaches, program leaders, and others can help young people figure out who they are and who they can become.

Caring alone isn’t enough…

We know that most people who work with young people sincerely care about kids. Unfortunately, our research shows that just having caring adults present in the lives of young people is not enough. To maximize impact, young people need a web of relationships with adults who challenge growth, provide support, expand possibilities, and share power, in addition to express care. We call this the Developmental Relationships Framework.

The Developmental Relationships Survey is the first step in identifying what support and guidance young people receive from the adults in your organization, and provide them with a voice as you make critical decisions. This is also an important step in understanding whether or not these relationships are experienced equitably across differences in race or gender.

Unfortunately, we know that one in five young people report no developmental relationships in their life at all. And another 20% have only one.


1/5 kids report zero developmental relationship


Another 20% report only having one developmental relationship

What is your relationship plan?

Schools and organizations often say that relationships are a priority. But often amidst other programs and requirements, a plan for how to build strong relationships sometimes takes a back seat.

Gathering focused data about where these relationships are needed is the first step in learning how to strengthen your school or program’s relationships, equity, and social emotional skills.

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Measure the Whole Student with the Developmental Relationships Survey

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We’re excited to introduce the Developmental Relationships Survey, a valid and reliable assessment that will bring actionable data and insight to your school or program. Measuring the effectiveness of relationships is the first step to being able to implement the kinds of solutions young people need to be and become their best selves.

But this survey doesn’t stop with just measuring relationships.

Developing an environment of equity also plays an important role in how young people experience relationships. So diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) are also included in the core survey.

 And strong relationships, along with equity, open the door for other important social emotional learning (SEL) (as defined by CASEL*), such social awareness, self-awareness and self-management. SEL is also measured in the survey.

More than Relationships: The Core Modules

Developmental Relationships

Young people’s experience of the components of the Developmental Relationships Framework: expressing care, providing support, challenge growth, sharing power, and expanding possibilities in their day-to-day interactions with staff or teachers. A staff counterpart survey for measuring developmental relationships is also available, free of charge, with the core module.

Social-Emotional Learning

These measure how well young people are prepared to engage in relationships, and measures the development of their skills that are enhanced through relationships, such as managing emotions, goal setting, empathy for others, and responsible decision making. These measures are aligned with CASEL’s five Social and Emotional Competencies*.


Providing young people an environment that is equitable is important for relationships to thrive. The survey measures instances of bias and discrimination, young people’s perception of safety and justice, and the building of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). A staff counterpart survey is also available. Note: some measures recommended for high school only.

Who is the survey for?

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Schools can use the Developmental Relationships Survey for grades 4 through 12 to evaluate equity, developmental relationships, and social emotional learning. Because the survey is valid to age 21, higher education institutions can also utilize the survey beyond high school, and a staff counterpart survey is available.

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Youth Programs

Empowering youth so they can effectively deal with their day to day challenges requires strong, effective relationships and a keen understanding of what is happening in their lives. Including youth voice in your strategy ensures you’re connecting with them where they are right now. A staff counterpart survey is also available.

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A strong community needs a level playing field where all youth have equal opportunity to succeed. In a time when social isolation and civil unrest add to the pressures that young people already face, understanding what young people are struggling with is the first step in making that happen.

Download Samples, Fact Sheets, and More

Download a sample survey, a sample report with composite data, the survey fact sheet with survey options, administration times, data options, and other details here.

Free for a Limited Time: Current Event Modules

For a limited time, get these two modules free with a purchase of the core survey:

COVID-19 Module

This module assesses how young people are feeling during the COVID-19 pandemic, including their stress level, feelings of disconnection, and how they are coping with pandemic-related changes in their lives. This COVID-19 survey module is free and available for a limited time only. Recommended for high school only

Racial Injustice Module

The Racial Injustice Module includes measures of young peoples’ beliefs in their own, and their community’s, efficacy in advancing racial justice causes. This DEI survey module is free and available for a limited time only. Recommended for high school only

Choose up to Two Additional Modules

You can further customize your survey by including two additional modules listed belowMore modules are being developed and will be available soon.The survey is currently available in English and Spanish, and an optional English audio version is available. More translations will be developed over time. Click below to learn more about the additional modules:

COVID-19 Module

This module assesses young people’s mental health during the ongoing pandemic, including the impacts on their relationship and supports. This module is FREE and only available for a limited time. 

Racial Injustice Module

Racial Injustice Module includes measures of the young person’s role in combating systemic racism and social injustices. This module is FREE and available only for a limited time. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Assets

This module measures a young person’s anger about social injustice, awareness of social inequality, and equity-focused social-emotional competencies.

Civic Engagement

This module looks at civic efficacy, social responsibility, civic skills, volunteering, political engagement, and critical information analysis.

Academic Module

This module looks at a young person’s self-reported grades and academic motivation.

Drug Free Communities

This module measures the 4-Core DFC Measures: 30-day use, perception of parental disapproval, perception of peer disapproval, and perception of risk.

Character Strengths

This module measures leadership, teamwork, gratitude, humility, future-mindedness, perseverance, spirituality, and personal responsibility. 

Internal Developmental Assets

The internal Developmental Assets are personal skills, commitments, and values that young people need to make good choices, take responsibility for their own lives, and be independent and fulfilled. These include commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity.

School Climate

This module measures student perceptions of their school’s environment, including their perceptions of fairness, safety, sense of belonging, among other areas critical to a positive and high-quality school environment.

Program Quality

This module measures young people’s perceptions of the quality of the programming environment.

Mentoring Quality

This module measures young people’s perceptions of the quality of their time with their mentor(s).

Expanded Relationships

This module includes other critical components of a strong, healthy relationship beyond the 5 elements in the Developmental Relationships Framework. This section explores each of the following categories: Authenticity, Responsiveness, Affect, and Youth Contribution to Relationships.


This module helps identify and better understand what young people love to do. Search Institute has used the term “sparks” to describe the interests and talents that give joy and meaning to life, and our research has found that when young people have a strong spark in their lives— such as a sport, a performing art, or another activity or interest—they are much more likely to be motivated and successful in school and to demonstrate other character strengths.

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What the Survey Includes:

Always Included:

  • Comprehensive user guide
  • Instructional videos
  • Survey administration support
  • Online access to the survey, with audio controls built in
  • Interactive dashboard, featuring real-time results, filterable for context-specific analysis
  • Social-emotional learning measures
  • In-depth aggregate reports to guide your data utilization

Optionally Included (additional fees may apply)

  • Sub-reports based on a specific cohort of youth, determined by you
  • Raw data at the individualized level
  • Individually scored data file
  • Aggregate report(s) of multiple sites
  • Data planning consult via Zoom
  • Data presentations
  • Professional Development workshops
  • Technical Assistance
  • Staff counterpart surveys
  • Spanish or English Audio versions

 Survey Pricing

Up to 100 Respondents 101-500 Respondents 501+ Respondents
Core Modules $250 $250 plus $2 per additional survey over 100 $800 plus $1.50 per additional survey over 500
Additional Site Report $150 per site $150 per site $150 per site
Additional Modules (1-2) $100 for 2 additional modules $100 for 2 additional modules $100 for 2 additional modules
Additional Modules (3+) Customized Pricing Customized Pricing Customized Pricing

Pricing Tool: To get an estimate of what the costs would be for your school or organization, use our interactive pricing tool to get a free quote.

How to Order

Choose Your Core

The core survey consists of three modules: Developmental Relationships, Social Emotional Learning (SEL), and Equity. There are choices to make within these three core modules as well.

Developmental Relationships Core: These measures are all included in the core survey. You will need to choose a “relational target” for the youth to think about when taking the survey, such as a teacher, leader, etc. (Download the survey fact sheet for more information)

SEL Core: Choose one of three options based on the depth you’d like to measure social emotional competencies . (Download the survey fact sheet for more information)

Equity Core: Choose one of five options based on the depth you’d like to measure equity and the age of the youth. (Download the survey fact sheet for more information)

For more information on the survey, download the fact sheet or contact our survey team and we will help you determine the best modules for your situation.

Choose Your Modules

We recommend a maximum of two additional modules beyond the core modules.

Determine which of the optional modules you need by defining which modules best align with your measurement goals. We also recommend getting feedback from peers, leadership, and young people when determining your goals.

You may wish to take advantage of two current modules that we’re offering free for a limited time: the COVID-19 survey module and the Racial Injustice survey module.

If you’re not sure what you need, contact our survey team and we will help you determine the modules that will help you get you the results you are looking for.

For more information about the modules and the survey, download our sample survey and fact sheets or contact our survey team and we will help you best determine what you need.

Order Your Survey

Click below to order your survey or use the interactive pricing tool to get a quote. Once you have made a decision on the modules, as well as your budget, complete the order form to get access to your survey link.

We will get in touch with you to handle all the details so you can start your survey!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the survey for?

Schools and programs, seeking actionable data and to guide social emotional learning, school or organizational climate, equitable environments, to improve to strengthen outcomes for young people. Serving grade 4 to Age 21

What is the process for purchasing the survey?

Click the button above to purchase the survey. After you have completed your survey request form, you will receive an invoice in 2-3 business days. At that time, your links will be active and ready for use.

What if I have a question or needs support administering the survey?

The best way to get in touch with us is through this link. We will get back to you to answer your questions.

When will other modules be available?

We are currently developing several additional modules, and we will release them when they are completed. To be notified when additional modules are available, please sign to recieive our emails here

How is the Developmental Relationships Survey different from your other surveys?

The Developmental Relationships Survey is based on the Developmental Relationships Framework, social emotional competencies (as defined by CASEL), equitable practices, and other additional modules that reflect the youth and climate of your organization. This survey is highly tailorable to fit your needs and time constraints.

Our other surveys are based on our Developmental Assets® Framework. 

How will I get the survey results?

When you place your order and create your links, you will also create a username and will receive a temporary password in your email that will allow you to login to request your reports.

What if I need additional surveys?

If you need additional surveys, please reach out to us.

Do you have staff surveys available?

Staff surveys will be available soon for the Developmental Relationships and the Equitable Practices core modules. Some add on modules will also be available with a staff component, and are indicated in the description. The added staff component costs an additional $100.

What is the cancellation policy for surveys?

If you decide to cancel your survey order there will be a $100 cancellation fee. You must cancel before administration of the survey. See our Survey Terms & Conditions for more information.

What will Search Institute do with the data that is collected?

Search Institute does not use data for any purposes outside of what is listed in the parental fact sheet and consent letter. The school, program, or organization using the survey will only be able to see an aggregated report of their survey results. These reports are typically used for strategic planning or evaluating the effectiveness of programs.

What is the minimum number of youth for a report to be generated?

A report minimum is 30 youth to be able to analyze the data and create each report. Larger samples can help combat statistical inconsistencies and ensure that a representative sample of the population is surveyed. Some data fields may be suppressed or merged if there are not enough youth.

How long does it take to complete the survey?

The core survey can be completed in as little as 10 minutes. Additional survey measures will change the amount of time it takes to complete the survey. Allow extra time for introduction, questions, and explanations. Please refer to the fact sheet for time estimates for each additional measure.

May I see a sample copy of the survey?

Yes, there is a sample included in the survey packet, you may also request a full sample by emailing

Can I use paper surveys?

Due to the nature of the survey, the Developmental Relationships Survey may only be completed online.

Can the surveys be taken on mobile devices?

Since the surveys are administered through a unique URL they can be completed on mobile devices that have browsers. This includes computers, iPads, tablets, mobile phones, etc. It is something that should be thoughtfully considered. Having youth take the survey on their personal devices could create complications such as: a feeling of inequality, distractions while surveying, the need for additional monitors, completing the survey outside of the administration window, additional data usage charges, etc.

Can the survey be taken by students at home?

Yes, the Developmental Relationship Survey survey can be taken remotely. We can provide you with best practices for proctoring the survey while students are not on-site. Please contact us for more information. 

After a survey is administered, what information can we expect from the site report?

The in-depth survey reports will contain detailed charts, graphs, and tables on the scales that your particular survey measures. Depending on sample size and survey type, these scores may be broken down into cohorts based on demographic subgroups. The dashboard will be filterable based on subgroups.

Do parents need to give consent?

We ask that schools, programs, and other organizations use a minimum of passive consent and follow state and local guidelines for determining the necessary level of consent. If IDs are used, we ask that the organization uses active consent. Regardless of the situation, youth should also assent to the survey. All organizations are provided with templates for these documents in the User Guide. Our survey scripts also inform youth that participation is voluntary, even if a parent has already given consent. Please refer to our Consent Form Templates.

Which other languages are services available in?

Currently, the Developmental Relationships Survey is available in English and Spanish. We also have an optional English audio version available. Additional language translations may be developed as the need arises. Please contact us for more information.

Is there a specific time period that my survey must be used?

When you create your surveys input the dates of your survey administration. Your links will remain open until the date you indicated that your administration will be complete.

How long will I have access to the survey and the results?

Search Institute does not currently have a limit on how long you can access the survey or the system. We will alert existing clients if this changes.

Are survey data private and secure?

Search Institute’s surveys are typically anonymous and contain no questions where responses would provide identifying information. In smaller samples, basic demographic questions (e.g. gender, grade) will be suppressed if they do not reach our required threshold. This is an internal policy to ensure that youth and adults who are completing the survey can feel confident that basic descriptive information can not be used to identify them. While organizations may elect to use an ID to track participation, Search Institute does not have the ability to identify youth or adults based on a unique number or alphanumeric code. 

Because existing data are not shared with Search Institute beyond responses to the actual survey questions, no data sharing agreement is required. By administering a Search Institute survey, partner organizations are electing to use a tool that Search Institute owns in order to help them better understand how youth experience their time at youth-serving organizations (e.g. schools, out-of-school time programs, etc.). The intent of these surveys is to highlight aggregate strengths, not individual deficits.

The surveys themselves are built and administered through a secure web-based platform called Alchemer and the resulting data are pulled and stored on Search Institute’s own internal servers for analysis and report processing. For the Developmental Relationships Survey, no human is interacting with these data, nor are individual identifiers being assigned to any of the survey respondents. There are no fields on the survey that ask for any personally-identifiable information. All of the anonymous data are aggregated prior to reporting results back to an organization, so no individual person’s data can be reviewed in the reports.

On Alchemer, no third-party cookies are required for the survey to work. They can safely be disabled. Access to the survey is facilitated through an HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) secure connection.

For other survey frequently asked questions, please see our general survey FAQs.


Got Questions?

We’re here to help you! Please reach out to contact us with any questions you may have, or to schedule a live demo.

*®CASEL 2017. The five social-emotional learning (SEL) competencies were developed and defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL). For more information, visit


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For more than 60 years, Search Institute® has been a leader and partner for organizations around the world in discovering what kids need to succeed. Our research, resources, and expertise help our partners in organizations, schools, and community coalitions solve critical challenges in the lives of young people.