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Survey Shows 1 in 3 Students View School Culture Positively

A survey conducted by YouthTruth over a three-year span (2013-2016) revealed that only 1 in 3 students had positive feedback in terms of school culture. The survey specifically asked questions that would reflect students' thoughts on respect and fairness in their school.

"The data is even more revealing when examined by age group—while 37 percent of middle school students rate their school culture positively, only 30 percent of high school students say the same," according to YouthTruth

The survey also found that only small percentage of students believe that their educators are treated with the same respect that they give to their students. While just 34 percent believe that students treat educators with respect, it does seem that some students understand the dangers of disrespect between students and educators. The survey highlighted this with an anonymous quote from a high school student.

"Although I believe that most staff members do treat staff and students with respect, I have noticed that many students do not show their teachers and fellow students respect," said the student. 

"I observe students both disrespecting the authority of teachers and disrespecting the ideas, beliefs, and personalities of their peers. This bothers me because disrespect discourages openness and safety. High school equips us for our future, so it is important that students learn the value of respect now."

The74Million profiled the Katherine Smith Elementary School in San Jose which participated in the YouthTruth survey. According to The74Million, "[s]ince YouthTruth began asking Katherine Smith students about their school, administrators have changed disciplinary policies, taken steps to help kids address bullying, and implemented circle time to check in on social-emotional issues." As a result of these measures, Katherine Smith's school culture rating improved from a 2.28 out of 3 when it first partnered with YouthTruth to a 2.44.

Some educators believe that helping students feel safe, respected, and cared about rather than becoming angry with a student who may be acting out tends to help the situation. Adopting this approach may also curtail instances of school staff taking inconsistent and inequitable disciplinary actions. The survey found that not all students feel that they are being treated equally, especially when it comes to the issue of discipline. According to the survey, only 28 percent of African American students believed that discipline at their school was fair. We previously examined racial biases and how they were in direct correlation with student distrust in their school. In a study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin "African American students reported more racial disparities than white students in decisions involving school discipline."

"These findings on culture underscore the importance of transparent and understandable discipline policies. Discipline and fairness are key components to a healthy and trusting school culture," said David Ross, long-time educator and CEO of Partnership for 21st Century Learning, according to YouthTruth.

"Therefore, educators must solicit feedback from students about what's working and not working to keep schools safe and equitable. All schools can take this data back to help create a common understanding of guidelines that can help build that trust and transparency."

The survey proves that equality in the classroom combined with positive reinforcement across the board should be a priority for schools in the U.S. Instead of instantly issuing a disciplinary action, it may be better to dive deeper into external factors that may cause a student to act out. It's a start when it comes to developing a more positive and respectful relationship between students and school staff.

Read the full story.

Article by Navindra Persaud, Education World Contributor.

 

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