The school cliff describing dropping engagement

From a Gallup blogpost about their research in schools we can learn that the longer students stay in school, the less engaged they become, they call it ‘the school cliff’

About the research: The Gallup Student Poll surveyed nearly 500,000 students in grades five through 12 from more than 1,700 public schools in 37 states in 2012. We found that nearly eight in 10 elementary students who participated in the poll are engaged with school. By middle school that falls to about six in 10 students. And by high school, only four in 10 students qualify as engaged. Our educational system sends students and our country’s future over the school cliff every year.

If we dig a bit deeper, we found which questions they probably have used in this poll:
  • I have a best friend at school.
  • I feel safe in this school.
  • My teachers make me feel my schoolwork is important.
  • At this school, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good schoolwork. (source)

One could think this is a normal evolution, but Gallup disagree: “the best high schools in our dataset have as many as seven in 10 of their students engaged, akin to the engagement levels of our elementary schools. In fact, in qualitative interviews Gallup conducted with principals of these highly engaged high schools, we heard quotes such as, “Our high school feels like an elementary school,” when describing what they are doing differently.



Filed under Education, Research

2 responses to “The school cliff describing dropping engagement

  1. Thanks for posting this, Pedro. I think you’re probably right about which questions are used as “indicators” of engagement. But to me those are very troubling definitions of engagement. It seems that better indicators would be participation in class, work completed, participation in clubs or sports, how frequently the students have 1:1 conversations with teachers and similar behavioral measures. The items you mentioned seem more, to me, indicators of how much kids like being at school. What do you think?

    • I think you’re right, that’s why I added them to the original post. There exist different instruments to measure engagement who are indeed much, much richer (I know them only in my own language) and closer to what I myself would describe as engagement.

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