Engaging the Voices of Students: A Report on the 2007 & 2008 High School Survey of Student Engagement” from the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University is an important piece of research that I think everyone in education should read.

High school drop-out rates are a national crisis caused in large part by a lack of student engagement. This report looks at what students say about school and engagement. Among the findings are the following.

  • Despite high drop-out rates, the aspirations of students are high with 91.4% reporting that they expect to graduate.
  • Students report attending school not only because they have to (58%; the third most common response), but because they want to graduate and go on to higher education (74%).
  • 67% of respondents report being bored in school every day. Their top reasons:
    • Material isn’t interesting (82%).
    • Material lacks relevance (41%).
    • Work isn’t challenging enough (33%).
    • Work is too difficult (27%).
  • Rigor, relevance, and relationships are critical to engagement. Students need to feel some connection to an adult in the school.

There is so much more powerful information in this report, including a collection of student responses to an open-ended prompt. Read it. It might change how you feel about education.

Credit: Matthew Stinson, CC BY NC

The engagement gap: listening to student voices

One thought on “The engagement gap: listening to student voices

  • April 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

    I have not read this research yet but from what’s described above this is not a surprise. The rush that NCLB has put on educators has compounded this concern about drop outs and engagement. Some recent research I read (can’t put my finger on it to cite) points to a few predictors of future drop outs. Basically, this research indicated that students in middle and elementary schools who have had an attendance problem and failing either math or reading are likely targets for potential drop outs in high school.

    William Glasser highlights this lack of engagement as a key indicator in uninformed and unmotivated citizens (starting from their school experiences). He exclaims, “Does it make any difference if a student stays in school and leans on his shovel, or drops out a leans on his shovel?” (Glasser, 1998 – The Quality School).

    Karen, your insights are, as always, healthy and “engaging!”


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