YouthTruth Survey Results: Learning from Student Voice
What do California students have to say about their experiences in schools?
To answer this question, YouthTruth analyzed survey responses from over 63,000 students in grades five through twelve. The data was gathered between November 2010 and February 2018 through YouthTruth’s anonymous online climate and culture survey, administered in partnership with school districts and charter management organizations throughout the state.
The report includes analysis of students’ responses to questions about school culture, student engagement, and college readiness.
The survey also found that middle school students are slightly more likely than high school students to positively experience school culture: 44 percent of middle school students feel positively about their school culture, compared to just 37 percent of high school students. These findings are particularly poignant amidst recent studies showing that school leaders should focus on school climate and culture to help drive positive academic outcomes, particularly as they work to bridge the achievement gap.
When asked about another aspect of their school culture, less than half of secondary students – just 44 percent – feel that discipline at their school is fair. Middle school students are slightly more likely than high school students to feel that discipline at their school is fair: while 49 percent of middle school students feel that discipline at their school is fair, just 42 percent of high school students agree.
“Students are the experts about their own experiences. California is home to more than six million students, each with their own important and unique school experiences. In order to lead responsive and inclusive schools, it is crucial that decision-makers ask – and truly listen – to what students have to say about their learning experiences, what is working for them, and where improvements are most needed,” said YouthTruth Executive Director Jen Wilka. “We applaud the work that educators, school systems, and organizations across the state are doing to listen to students.”
Read or download the full report here.
In 2008, national non-profit YouthTruth was developed in collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to better understand student perceptions about their high school experiences. Since then, YouthTruth has expanded to hundreds of schools, with over a half-million students surveyed in grades 3-12.