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We'll say it again: The kids are the experts.

Let’s begin with a cookbook of sorts:

  • You can make better decisions when you gather data.

  • You gather data through powerful survey tools.

  • Respondents use powerful survey tools when the surveys are approachable.

  • Surveys are approachable when they are simple and short.

This “cookbook” is especially true for students.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again now, and I’ll say it again in the future: the kids are the experts.

Nobody knows better what’s going on at school than the kids.

Period. Full stop. End of sentence.

As a former public school teacher, I had a pretty good inkling of what was going on in the district and community. However, the kids were the only ones to experience between four and eight teachers a day.

Surveying your students can provide extremely powerful data. Concerns that parents/caregivers and staff have may not mean anything to students. At the same time, areas where parent/caregivers and staff think are going well turn out to be extremely stressful for students and hinder their achievement.

Take, for instance, the transition to middle school. The experience of young adolescents often includes:

  • A decline in grades and achievement, intrinsic motivation, self-perceived academic competence, school engagement, attitudes toward school, and academic interest.

  • A deterioration in self-views, self-esteem, self-efficacy, and self-worth.

  • An escalation in anxiety, absenteeism, and general psychological distress.

Or, alternatively, the transition to high school:

  • The likelihood of dropping out of school is greater than at any other time in the student’s high school experience, and the decision is often made in the very first few weeks. Researchers do not mince their words when discussing ninth grade. “If students do not have a good experience that freshman year, the decision to drop out of high school is either consciously or subconsciously made at that time.” “The passage of students from middle grades to high school is the most difficult transition point in education.”

Our student surveys will help you answer questions such as:

  • What practices and policies help your students learn, and what barriers are in the way?

  • Do your students feel supported?

  • What could you do to increase student involvement both in and out of the classroom?

What’s more, these surveys – which were validated in part by middle and high school students – are written in language that your students will understand, including emojis.

  • My teachers explain things in a way that I get.

  • I try my best at school.

  • I feel safe at school.

  • I can be myself at school.

  • If I have a big problem, there is an adult at school I can talk to about it.

A survey doesn’t – nor should it! – be complicated to get remarkably useful action items. Use these surveys to collect data from your most knowledgeable stakeholders.


The School Perceptions Blog and Resource Center features the voices of our team members. This post was written by Rob DeMeuse, Research Director.


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