Survey Finds Majority of Students Feel Engaged, But Less Than Half Find School Work to be Relevant
Across all grade levels, the majority of students feel engaged, according to data released today by the San Francisco-based nonprofit YouthTruth Student Survey.
The findings come from a recent analysis of student perception survey data from over 230,000 students across 36 states gathered between November 2012 and June 2017. The analysis found slight differences in students’ experiences of engagement across grade levels, with elementary students slightly more likely to be engaged than secondary students. Seventy eight percent of elementary students report feeling engaged, compared to just 59 percent of middle and 60 percent of high school students.
Students’ experiences also vary slightly by school size. Students at small schools are slightly more likely to feel engaged than their peers at large schools, with 68 percent of students at small schools reporting feeling engaged compared to just 57 percent of students at large schools.
Most secondary students also take pride in the work they do in school: 72 percent of middle school and 68 percent of high school students report taking pride in their school work. There is some variation among self-reported demographic groups: female students are slightly more likely to take pride in their school work, and students who identify as other than male or female are slightly less likely to take pride in their school work. Seventy four percent of female students and 66 percent of male students report taking pride in their school work, compared to just 44 percent of students who identify as other than male or female.
While students are engaged, many do not feel a connection between their school work and day-to-day life. Fifty four percent of middle school students report feeling their school work was relevant to life outside the classroom, compared to just 46 percent of high school students. Studies have shown that students understand and retain knowledge best when they have had the opportunity to apply that knowledge in a practical, relevant setting, which allows students to better understand how academic skills transfer to life outside the classroom.
YouthTruth partners with districts and charter school management organizations (CMOs) across the country to gather student, family, and school staff feedback on the themes that matter most to creating healthy climate and culture.