DR Survey Hero

Developmental Relationships Survey

A Web of Relationships

The Developmental Relationships Survey is a first step for organizations to identify the level of support and guidance young people are experiencing from the adults in their lives. The survey measures the effectiveness of relationships, introducing a key youth voice by asking young people how they experience relationships in their schools, programs, and communities. It also measures equitable practices and social-emotional learning competencies (as defined by CASEL). The survey is based on Search Institute’s Developmental Relationships Framework — five elements that young people need to grow and thrive. Schools, organizations, and programs are using the Developmental Relationships Survey to deepen their understanding of the young people they serve, strengthen their relationships, and advance equity.

The Roots of Young People’s Success

Our decades of youth development research have taught us that the relationships young people experience with the adults in their lives are important — even foundational — to the process of learning who they are and discovering who they can become. To thrive and overcome difficult life challenges, young people rely upon a web of relationships with family members, teachers, school administrators, coaches, program leaders, and others. Our Developmental Relationships Framework identifies five key elements —expressed in 20 specific actions—that make relationships powerful in young people’s lives.

Unfortunately, too few young people report having developmental relationships. One in five say they have no developmental relationships at all; another 20% have only one. Schools and organizations that want to understand what they are doing right and how they can improve relationships are starting by asking young people about their own experiences. This approach empowers young people to share their insights and experiences, opening the door to action and transformation.

The power of relationships in young people’s lives.

The intersection between developmental relationships, equitable environments, and social-emotional learning.

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Three Core Modules: Developmental Relationships, Social-Emotional Learning, and Equity

The Developmental Relationships Survey three core modules are designed to evaluate and assess three key areas where young people’s voices matter.

This module measures young people’s experiences of the components of the Developmental Relationships Framework: expressing care, providing support, challenging growth, sharing power, and expanding possibilities in their day-to-day interactions with staff or teachers. A counterpart survey for staff is also available, free of charge.

This module assesses how well young people are prepared to engage in relationships and measures the development of their skills 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.

This section of the survey measures instances of bias and discrimination, young people’s perceptions of safety and justice, culturally responsive environments, and efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).

Developmental Relationships Survey

If you can impact relationships you can impact the outcome.

Developmental Relationships Survey

Additional Modules

In addition to the three core modules the Developmental Relationships Survey allows organizations to measure other related areas of interest by adding additional modules to their survey. This provides the flexibility to tailor the survey to specific needs and goals. The following optional modules are available now:

  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Assets measures a young person’s perceptions about social injustice, awareness of social inequality, and equity-focused social-emotional competencies.

  • Civic Engagement looks at civic efficacy, social responsibility, civic skills, volunteerism, political engagement, and critical information analysis.

  • Academic Module examines a young person’s self-reported grades, academic motivation, self-efficacy, growth mindset, internal locus of control, and goal orientation..

  • Drug Free Communities measures the 4-Core DFC Measures: 30-day use of alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, and prescription drugs, perception of parental disapproval, perception of peer disapproval, and perception of risk.

  • Character Strengths measures leadership, teamwork, gratitude, humility, future-mindedness, perseverance, spirituality, and personal responsibility.

  • Internal Developmental Assets measures personal skills, commitments, and values that young people need to make good choices, along with their perceptions of identity, agency, and future mindedness. These include commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity.

  • Sparks measures what interests and values your young people have (i.e. “Sparks”), and how these Sparks are promoted, developed, and shared within your context.

  • Student Voice measures school- and classroom-level student voice practices such as leadership roles, opportunities for collaboration, and feedback and input mechanisms.

  • School Climate measures the quality of the educational climate at school, including measures of fairness, belonging, instructional practices, safety, classroom order, captivation, and student voice.

  • Program Quality measures the quality of the program from the perspective of young people. This includes questions related to belonging, engagement, efficacy and mattering, skill-building, safety, and family engagement.

  • Expanded Relationships measures the authenticity, responsiveness, and affect of relationships between adults and youth. Additionally, this module includes measures of how young people contribute to relationships with adults.

Using Survey Data to Connect with Youth 

Measuring the effectiveness of relationships, the environment of equity, and opening the door to social-emotional learning are the first steps to implementing programs and solutions that young people need to be and become their best selves. Here are some places where the Developmental Relationships Survey is providing useful data and guidance:


Schools can use the Developmental Relationships Survey for grades 4-12 to create dynamic learning environments that serve the needs of all students. Schools use the survey to evaluate developmental relationships, equity, and social-emotional learning. The survey is valid up to age 21, and can be utilized by higher education institutions as well.

Youth Programs

Empowering young people so they can deal with the day-to-day challenges and stresses of life requires a deep understanding of what is happening in their lives and listening to what the adults in their lives can do to better connect with them. The survey is a proven way to introduce youth voice into a program or school’s mission and strategy.


A strong community needs a level playing field where all young people have an equal opportunity to succeed and thrive. During widespread mental health and wellbeing crises, it’s more important than ever to learn what matters to young people.

What the Survey Includes:

  • Comprehensive user guide

  • Instructional videos

  • Survey administration support

  • Online access to the survey, with English audio controls built in

  • English or Spanish versions

  • Interactive dashboard, featuring real-time results, filterable for context-specific analysis

  • In-depth aggregate reports to guide data utilization

  • Staff counterpart surveys

  • Sub-reports based on a specific cohort of youth

  • Raw data at the individualized level

  • Individually scored data file

  • Aggregate report(s) of multiple sites

  • Data planning consult via Zoom

  • Data presentations

  • Professional learning workshops

  • Technical assistance


  • Up to 100 respondents – $250

  • 101-500 respondents – $250 + $2/survey over 100

  • 501+ respondents – $800 + $1.50/survey over 500

Above pricing includes core modules and 1 site report

Discounted pricing for additional site reports and modules — contact us for details

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