The following FAQs were provided during the administration of the survey.


What is “TELL MASS”?
TELL MASS is an anonymous statewide survey of licensed school-based educators to assess teaching conditions at the school, district and state level. The state’s education leaders want to ensure that every educator has the supportive environment necessary to help students achieve at the highest levels! 

Can you tell me the basics of the survey?

  • TELL MASS is an anonymous, online survey of every licensed school-based educator in the state.
  • The survey will be live from Jan.21-Feb. 18, 2014.
  • Educators can access the survey via any Internet location, using an individual, anonymous access code.
  • Anyone can view the response rate at any school during the survey window to make sure every school reaches the minimum response rate needed for data (50%).
  • Results will be available for schools reaching the 50% minimum response rate and minimum of 5 educators. 

Who are the Partners supporting TELL MASS?
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, MABE, MTA, MASC, TeachPlus, MAFT, MAVA, and the New Teacher Center.

What is the Statement of Partners?
The TELLS 2014 Advisory Council is comprised of a coalition of diverse stakeholders and policy makers who share a clear understanding of the purpose of the survey and how the results will be disseminated and used. View the Statement of Partners by clicking here.

How can I take the survey?
Once you receive your anonymous access code, click on "Take the Survey."

  • 24 hours/day
  • Use any Internet location
  • View the survey questions
  • Read about the research
  • Take the survey!

How will teachers and administrators receive their anonymous access codes?
The principal in each school will receive a packet of letters the week before the survey starts.There will be a Letter of Instruction included. Packet of Materials will have a bright sticker on the envelope. The principal is asked to work with the teacher leaders and:

  • Set up a faculty meeting to take place on or before Jan. 21
  • Share key talking points about the TELL MASS Survey.
  • Disseminate the letters randomly.
  • Teachers can switch their letters once received with other licensed educators based in their same school.
  • Meet with anyone not in attendance to explain the process.
Who can I call if I need help, lose my access code or didn’t receive an access code?
Call the toll-free Help Desk 1-800-310-2964 available 7:30 AM-4:30 PM EST Monday through Friday during the survey window. (Jan 21-Feb 18). Help Desk can also be accessed at any time through email or by accessing the help page on this website.  Anyone (principals or teachers) not receiving codes should contact the Help Desk during the survey window.
What if I misplaced or never received my anonymous access code?
Contact the Help Desk by email at and request a code at any time, from any email address, or call the toll free number 1-800-310-2964 between
7:30AM-4:30PM and request another code.
What if no one in the school received codes?
If your entire school did not receive access codes - the administrator or school representative should contact the Help Desk.
Can I request multiple codes?
Educators can request multiple codes starting one week after the launch of the survey. Contact the Help Desk (via email or phone) and provide your school name, district name, and an email address so the Help Desk can send the codes embedded in the code letter as a file for them to print and disseminate.
Can a code be used more than once?
No. The Help Desk systems can track code usage from the original (or any subsequent) batch.
How do we know when a school reaches the minimum 50% response rate needed for school-level data?
View the response rate tracker by clicking here.
How long does it take to complete the survey?
TELL MASS takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
Who can participate in the survey?
All school-based educators in licensed positions (teachers, administrators, media coordinators, counselors, etc.) are eligible to take the survey. Itinerant teachers should complete the survey at the school where they received the code letter which should be where they spend the majority of their time, usually 50% or more, or for their home-based school.
While we understand that Education Support Personnel are critical to the success of their building, the TELL Massachusetts Survey questions were designed to probe deeply into specific supports and resources available to teachers. Given the disparity in how ESPs are utilized across schools, the state has selected to ask only certificated to participate at this juncture. 
Who was included in the headcount at my school?
ESE uses EPIMS data to determine the approximate number of educators in a building.
This data is based on the most recent verified data collection. For TELLS 2014, this data reflects the June 2013 collection staff at a school building. Eligible Educators included in the count are educators working positions classified as one of the following: Teachers, Co-Teachers, Instructional leads, Librarians/Media Directors, Principals, Asst. Principals, Guidance Counselors, Nurses, School Adjustment Counselors, Psychologist, Speech Pathologists and Social Workers. If an educator works at more than one site, s/he is counted with his/her home-based school. Long term substitutes ARE eligible to take the survey but were not included in the count. 
What should we do if the website has the incorrect number of people for my school?
All requests for headcount changes must be submitted via the Help Desk.
Click here to access the headcount change request form.
Complete form to update headcount. Please note it may take as long as 48 hours for the change to be reflected on the website.
Are central office licensed personnel included?
No, only school-based licensed educators participate in the TELL survey.
Do administrators and teachers receive separate codes?
No. They will use the same website to access the survey using one of the anonymous access codes on the letter. At the very beginning of the survey the participant will be asked to select his/her school position. When the principal selects “Principal” he/she will then receive many of the same questions as teachers, but will receive an additional bank of questions that have been specifically designed for administrators.
Do administrators and teachers answer the same questions? 
No. Everyone will use the same website to access the survey using the unique access code in the letter to educators. Then, at the very beginning of the survey the participant will be asked to select his/her job category. While certain questions will be asked of all participants, the job category you identify will determine the customized questions you are asked to answer.
How are the administrator results reported?
To ensure anonymity of all respondents, all responses for administrators are reported at the state level. 
How are the teacher results reported?
All schools will receive state and district data. However to ensure anonymity of all respondents, only schools that achieve the 50% or greater response rate and have a minimum of 5 respondents, will receive their school-specific data. 
What are access codes and are they really random? 
They are randomized codes, that provide confidentiality for the educators, created by the New Teacher Center and associated to school buildings so that school can use the results from their own teachers.
  • They are not linked to any individual.
  • It is impossible to trace to an individual before, during, or after the survey is completed.
  • It does not matter which educator uses a particular code within a school building.
  • Each code can only be used once.

Can you ensure that this is anonymous?
The survey is about the school environment - not about any one person or individual. There are NO questions asked that refer to an individual educator or administrator rather, questions refer to “leadership” at the school. There are no questions on the survey that specifically ask about subject areas or grade levels. 

When the school reports are released (for all schools that reach at least a 50% response rate and with a minimum 5 teachers) there is nothing to indicate any type of teacher or any one administrator in a school or district. While there are some demographic questions on the survey, the answers to these questions are only reported at the state level, and not at the district or school level. There is no way that any connection can be made that a teacher or principal at a certain school gave a certain response.
What if I am the only new teacher, or the only ESL teacher? How will my response really be anonymous? 
There is a minimum sample size of at least 5 for any school level report; So, unless there are at least 5 teachers within their first three years of teaching, no data will appear on the school report for the “New Teacher Section.”
Additionally, individuals can feel even more secure about their anonymity being protected because:
  • It is not possible to view data by role, years of experience, or any other demographic information at the school or district level.
  • Demographic data will only be reported at the state level.
  • If the Department decides in the future to make raw data available to districts for further research, demographic information will be removed.
Is there anything different about the 2014 survey compared to the 2012 survey?
The 2014 TELLS survey includes all the same questions as the 2012 survey. There is only 1 additional question that asks if the school used the 2012 TELL data in school improvement planning.
When will the results be ready? How can they be viewed? 
  • All data will be available on this website approximately 5 weeks after the close of the survey window;
  • Results show answers to every question by school and district reaching the minimum threshold for response.
  • Results can be downloaded in Excel format The results will be pass code protected for 2 weeks 
  • There will be Guides posted in the Tools section of this site for Districts and Schools on how to use the data for school improvement planning.
Who is administering this survey?
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has contracted with the New Teacher Center (NTC) to administer the state’s survey. NTC is a national organization dedicated to supporting the development of a high-quality teaching force. NTC has conducted similar surveys in other states and provides induction and professional development for teachers and
principals across the country.
Since 2008, the NTC has collected more than one million surveys in 20 states, providing critical information to the faculty in more than 26,000 schools about issues such as planning time, facilities and resources, professional development, school and teacher leadership and other aspects of the school environment that can influence teacher effectiveness. Learn more at:
Wasn’t there a TELL MASS Survey in 2012?
Yes! In 2012, we heard from over 42,400 educators. That’s 52% of our building educators! Over 1,100 schools received building level data! Check out the UMASS Donahue Institute report to learn a bit more about some districts experience with TELLS 2012.
Why are teaching conditions important?
Research has shown that the quality of teaching conditions can encourage or constrain good teaching and have a powerful influence on student achievement. Understanding and improving teaching conditions can result in:
  • Increased student success
  • Improved teacher efficacy and motivation
  • Enhanced teacher retention
  • Recruitment strategies targeted to bring educators to hard-to-staff schools
The work is research driven and is now part of national education reform initiatives.
What is the purpose of the 2014 TELL MASS Survey?
The 2014 TELL MASS Survey is the second statewide opportunity for educators to provide input on teaching conditions such as:
  • Time during the day for collaborative instructional planning
  • School and teacher leadership
  • Facilities and resources
  • Professional development
  • And other supports needed for educators to do their jobs well.
The main intent is to provide additional data for school and district improvements. Results may also inform state level policy.
Why is it important to complete the TELL MASS Survey?
YOUR voice can help inform the decisions that are made not only at your school, but also in your district.
A growing body of research shows the importance of positive teaching conditions to student learning and teacher retention. (See for more information.)
Education leaders want to hear from every teacher and administrator in order to make the best decisions about facilities and resources, professional development, time for collaboration, and ways for improving instruction. TELL MASS will provide that data and much more.