Which demographic questions should I ask on my surveys?

What you’ll learn:

Panorama’s self-service platform supports demographic breakdowns on reports so you can see how the perceptions of respondents in various subgroups differ. This resource will help you know how to set up your surveys to get this demographic data to appear in reports.

Note: This resource applies to our online clients who are uploading their data and creating their surveys through Panorama's self-service survey portal. If you work with a project manager at Panorama, you may have different options.

Why Demographic Data Matters

Understanding and how your students’ perceptions differ by demographic group is extremely valuable when driving student and school improvement. Read how San Bernadino used demographic data to address disproportionate discipline here.

Take Action: Set up your surveys so demographics appear in reports

When setting up your surveys, there are three ways to include subgroup information in reports:

  1. Import demographics in the data file you upload when creating the surveys
  2. Select the “Background Questions” topic for respondents to self-report on the survey
  3. Add custom questions on the surveys for respondents to self-report on the survey

Review the list below to determine what demographic data you’d like to see in your student survey reports, then follow the recommended action for how to get that data to appear in your reports.

Import demographics

Any demographic field that is in the data file template can be uploaded and appear as a breakdown on reports automatically. Any other fields you import won’t appear in your reports. You can upload these fields in your data file for SEL and Feedback surveys (you don’t need to ask them on the survey):

  • Student Grade
  • Student Gender
  • Student Race
  • Student ELL Status
  • Student FRPL Status
  • Student Special Ed Status
  • Student Gifted Status
Select the “Background Questions” topic

You can select the “Background Topic” on the topic selection page if you’d like to gather this data for student SEL surveys:

  • Primary language spoken at home
  • The kinds of grades students usually get

You can select the “Background Topic” on the topic selection page if you’d like to gather this data for student feedback surveys:

  • Age (year born)
  • Primary language spoken at home
  • The kinds of grades students usually get
  • Education level of guardians
Add custom questions

You can add any custom questions that you would like, and they can be demographic or not demographic. If you’d like to see the question broken down on your reports, you can add a multiple choice custom question and check the box, “Please check this box if you would like to use this question as a breakdown on your reports.” Here are common custom demographic questions our partners use:

  • After school program attendance
  • Boarding student
  • Years student has been at this school/district
  • Specific questions about new incentives, events, programs etc.
  • Since the gender background question only allows students to choose between Male and Female some partners add gender here to allow for varied gender identities
  • Ethnicity
  • How many hours of technology used at home
  • Career plans


Setting up the demographic information on the front end helps ensure that your reports have the important information you’d like to explore. To see an example of how subgroup information appears in reports,  please review this reports guide (skip to 1:20 for Subgroup View overview)

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