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8 Things You Need to Know About Students

8 Things You Need to Know About Students

by Valerie J. Calderon and Daniela Yu
Chart: data points are described in article

This is the first article in a four-part series. Read the second, third and fourth articles.

School leaders know there are many factors that influence student success in school and in life.

Specifically, they know that traditional measures, such as grades and standardized test scores, don't sufficiently gauge success. So leaders are seeking other relevant and timely data that can support their efforts to build engaged schools where students can prepare to live their best lives.

For the past eight years, Gallup has helped thousands of schools add student feedback to their framework for student success. Students from schools that opted to participate in the survey have completed nearly 5 million surveys since the Gallup Student Poll pilot was launched in 2009.

The Gallup Student Poll provides actionable data that help leaders create a positive school environment for students: one that builds engagement, creates hope for the future, fosters talent and prepares students to participate meaningfully in our nation's economy by finding -- or creating -- a good job someday.

Some of the 24 core items in the Gallup Student Poll have been tested and in use for decades through Gallup's workplace, education and national survey research. Results from the 2016 Gallup Student Poll showed that nearly half (49%) of U.S. public school students from schools that opted to participate in the survey are engaged with school, and 47% are hopeful for the future.

The Gallup Student Poll includes four elements: engagement with school, hope for the future, entrepreneurial aspiration, and career and financial literacy.

  • Engagement: the involvement in and enthusiasm for school. Engaged students are excited about what's happening at their school and what they're learning. They contribute to the learning environment and are emotionally connected to their school.
  • Hope: the ideas and energy students have for the future. Hope has been linked to student success in school. Hopeful students are positive about the future and goal-oriented. They can overcome obstacles in the learning process, enabling them to navigate a pathway to achieve their goals.
  • Entrepreneurial Aspiration: the talent and energy necessary to build businesses that survive, thrive and employ others. By identifying and nurturing students' entrepreneurial talent, educators can empower the next generation of innovators to spur and sustain long-term economic energy.
  • Financial/Career Literacy: the information, attitudes and behaviors that students need for healthy participation in the economy. Wise economic choices can contribute to a thriving life.

The 2016 Gallup Student Poll Snapshot Report reveals eight things that Gallup has learned about the students it surveyed:

  1. Engaged and hopeful students fare better on desirable outcomes, such as better self-reported academic performance and less absenteeism.

  2. Students become less engaged as they journey through school.

  3. Many students have a best friend at school, but few get to do what they do best every day.

  4. Getting to do what they do best drives high school students' perception of success at school.

  5. Many young students but few older students feel surrounded by caring adults at school.

  6. Engagement and hope are linked to students' plans after high school.

  7. Entrepreneurial aspiration wanes for high school students.

  8. Involvement in extracurricular activities boosts positive outcomes for students.

These findings are based on results from the 2016 Gallup Student Poll, which marked the eighth annual survey of students in grades five through 12 and represented about 3,000 public and private schools in the U.S. and Canada. Gallup conducted the survey via web Sept. 26-Oct. 28, 2016.

The four elements included in the Gallup Student Poll complement traditional measures, such as grade-point average, grades, graduation rate and standardized test scores.

Traditional measures illuminate areas of proficiency and areas of weakness. However, a more complete and balanced school success framework includes non-cognitive measures alongside traditional ones to help inspire positive learning environments. Those environments give students the chance to practice what they do best and develop a personal pathway to a good job and a great life.

Inviting students' feedback via the Gallup Student Poll helps schools create that balanced framework, highlighting ways to engage students today and make them ready and hopeful for the future.

The next article in this series describes engagement differences between younger and older students.

Does your school know the best ways to measure and build engagement among students, staff and parents? Gallup can help you find out.

Survey Methods

The Gallup Student Poll results and findings are based on surveys collected via web from 909,617 students in grades five through 12, representing about 3,000 schools from 540 school districts across 49 states and the District of Columbia. Massachusetts was the only U.S. state not included in the poll. The online poll was completed by a convenience sample of schools and districts from Sept. 26-Oct. 28, 2016. Gallup does not randomly select schools participating in the annual Gallup Student Poll, nor does Gallup provide any incentives for participation beyond school-specific data. Participation rates vary by school. The survey is anonymous and only group data are reported.

The annual Gallup Student Poll is offered to U.S. schools and districts for a nominal fee. Gallup Student Poll data are not statistically weighted to account for nonresponse bias; therefore, the overall data from the annual administration of the Gallup Student Poll may not be generalizable to the U.S. student population of fifth- through 12th-grade students.

Mark Reckmeyer, Sr. Consultant, provided database management and analytics support for this article.

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