NAIS and CEPR staff have a long and successful history of working together to provide independent schools with the types of valid and meaningful data on student engagement needed to inform policies and practices. The partnership began in 2008 when NAIS first began piloting HSSSE with approximately 20 independent schools. The importance of gathering student engagement data was heightened in 2011 when the NAIS Commission on Accreditation added a new requirement to its Criteria for Effective Independent School Accreditation that asks schools undergoing accreditation to provide evidence of a thoughtful process of collecting and using student learning data. As a result of the new accreditation requirement, NAIS, in collaboration with the NAIS Commission on Accreditation, partnered with CEPR researchers to conduct a three-year study on the use of the HSSSE instrument with independent school students. From 2013 to 2015, approximately 90 independent schools participated in HSSSE in order to gather data about how schools use student engagement data and its impact on teaching, learning and school climate.
In 2016, based on data gathered during the three-year study, NAIS decided to continue the partnership to actively encourage independent schools to gather student engagement data. In addition, NAIS wished to extend this valuable and effective method for gathering similar student engagement data from middle grade students. Data from middle grade students is particularly important given that research indicates that middle school grades are a critical time period for students where student engagement often declines. Therefore, CEPR researchers developed a parallel survey to gather data for middle grade students, resulting in the recently released Middle Grades Survey of Student Engagement (MGSSE). Now independent schools are encouraged to gather student engagement data using HSSSE for students in grades 9 through 12, and MGSSE for students in grades 5 through 9. NAIS subsidizes the costs of participating in HSSSE and MGSSE in order to encourage schools to gather (and use) student engagement data.