All across America, one of the biggest debates involving public education centers around whose voices should be heard and considered when debating what’s best for students in the public school system. Parents fed up with the state of education are demanding more say and input into what schools are teaching their children. Some educators and officials argue that parents are being misled, depicting how they are the experts that know what’s best for children inside the classroom. Even politicians have gotten involved in the conversation, introducing more education bills than ever before. But what about the students? Are schools listening to student feedback? Apparently, those that are are displaying much better academic progress than those who fail to listen to the pupils’ voices.
EdWeek recently reported that new research proves just how important the link between student feedback and academic achievement is. While opinions on how to improve widely differ from person to person, the new study shows that those who incorporate student voices into the argument will likely improve school success. It all centers around the notion that students who feel that their opinions are considered by school leaders will depict higher grade point averages, and much more.
The research was conducted at the University of California, Riverside, along with support from Northwestern University. It was led by Joseph Kahne, a professor of education policy and the co-director of the Civic Engagement Research Group at UC Riverside. He and his team studied and surveyed 12,000 9th grade students in Chicago from the 2018 to 2019 school year, garnering student feedback before the nation was heavily torn on social justice and equality issues along with the pandemic.
For the survey portion, students were asked feedback on a wide array of issues relating to relationships, trust, and supportive school environments. The researchers then ranked schools based on students’ responses to questions regarding their school’s ability to listen to and respond to student feedback. In conclusion, students’ attendance rates and GPAs correlated positively with higher-ranking schools.
For those schools ranking in the bottom tenth for being unattentive to student feedback, the average student missed nearly 10% of the school year, making them nearly chronically absent. For the top 10% rankings, the average student only missed about 6% of school. While the division for this category might be small, researchers feel that ultimately student feedback rates do play a role, albeit little, in attendance rates.
Furthermore, students attending schools in the bottom tenth ranking showcased an average GPA of 2.65. On the other hand, those in the top tenth division exhibited averages of 2.85. Calling this leap “statistically significant” the research made note of controls were put in place, such as previous year statistics and socioeconomic variables.
It is important to note that this correlation doesn’t necessarily mean that schools ranking high in student feedback support are necessarily acting on what students desire. More so, the data serves as a reminder that it is important to understand how students who feel their thoughts and ideas are heard will overall produce better standings, as in grades. Considering the current state of education, and the divide that is making its way through contentious school topics of interest, it is important to understand that it’s not only the voices of parents that matter, but also that of America’s youth.
In a growing fashion, students seem to be getting more involved in all aspects of American life. Young citizens have always been involved in social activist movements, but more and more young voices are stepping out and demanding to be heard. Considering everything that young children and teenagers have been through during the pandemic, all while proving their resiliency, giving them an ear can go a long way.