New National Report Finds Students Pushing Themselves to Achieve in Both School and Life

06 March 2012

Data also reveals high levels of boredom and students who think teachers do not care about them

Portland, ME – A new national report that asks students about their goals and aspirations found that 87 percent of students are pushing themselves to do better in school and want to do their best. While some of the findings are encouraging, these students also expressed that they feel undervalued in – and not all proud of – their schools. The results of the My Voice™ National Report offer educators and administrators unique insight into what motivates students to learn and succeed.

The My Voice Student Aspirations Survey seeks to gather information about student perceptions of their experience at school. The results of the survey are used by administrators, educators, parents and students themselves to improve schools, helping many schools to create or move to a more student-centered focus.

Conducted by the Pearson Foundation and the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations, the most recent survey was conducted with 57,883 students (grades 6–12) during 2010–2011 academic year, representing more than 200 schools from across the United States. This comprehensive survey asks students to respond to questions about their school and learning environment that spotlight vital areas such as self-worth, engagement, and purpose. The survey is grounded in a framework called the 8 Conditions that Make a Difference® created by the Quaglia Institute.

Key survey findings from the My Voice National Report include:

  • Almost all students believe they can be successful in school
  • Nearly nine in ten students believe getting good grades is important
  • Less than half of students think that their teachers care about them
  • Nearly half of students say that school is boring

Additional findings in the report paint a mixed picture of how students feel and what is the best environment for success; the survey covers a wide variety of student opinions ranging from peer acceptance to teacher performance and academic motivation.

Nearly three-quarters of students report feeling accepted for who they are at school, and a relatively small proportion (17%) say that they have difficulty fitting in at school. While 66% of the students surveyed said their school is a welcoming and friendly place, bullying is still a problem reported by 45% of the students surveyed, with the problem being more prevalent in middle school than high school.

Research consistently shows that some of the most influential people in students’ lives are their teachers. The positive results of the survey point to a majority of students who said they have a teacher who is a positive role model (74%), yet only 41% of the respondents said that students respect teachers.

“I am encouraged by the fact that so many students want to succeed,” said Dr. Russell J. Quaglia, founder of the My Voice Survey. “This survey provides us a unique window into schools and provides us with a powerful tool to address the conditions that foster student success.”

“The student voice is so important in all of the work we do in education,” said Pearson Foundation President Mark Nieker. “One of the most encouraging outcomes of the My Voice Survey is that schools are able to analyze the perceptions and attitudes of their students and make adjustments and changes to enhance the school environment.”

To learn more about the My Voice National Report, the My Voice Survey or My Voice grant opportunities, visit http://myvoice.pearsonfoundation.org/.

About the Pearson Foundation

The Pearson Foundation is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that aims to make a difference by promoting literacy, learning, and great teaching. The Pearson Foundation collaborates with leading businesses, non-profits, and education experts to share good practice; foster innovation; and find workable solutions to the educational disadvantages facing young people and adults across the globe. More information on the Pearson Foundation can be found at www.pearsonfoundation.org.

About the Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations

The Quaglia Institute for Student Aspirations is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and putting into practice the conditions that foster student aspirations in schools and learning communities around the world. Visit the website at www.qisa.org.