Survey: Majority of ND Students Dedicated to School Work

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For Immediate Release
Contact: Dale Wetzel, Public Information Specialist
Office 701-328-2247
Cell: 701-400-8557
Survey: Majority of ND Students Dedicated to School Work

BISMARCK, N.D., Jan. 29, 2018 – State School Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said a survey of North Dakota students shows a majority are invested in their schoolwork and pay close attention to what they are learning, while smaller groups do just enough to get by or don’t do what is asked of them.

The 20-question “student engagement survey” was given from Nov. 1 through Dec. 8, 2017. Baesler said it was completed by 72,976 students, or 89 percent of North Dakota’s public school students in grades three through 12. Students’ names were not attached to their responses, and identifying numbers were encrypted.

The survey was designed to glean whether students were “engaged,” “compliant,” or “not engaged” in their schoolwork. Separate questionnaires were given to elementary, middle and high school students. The questionnaires are posted on the Department of Public Instruction’s website.

“We wanted to find out how involved, and how engaged, are our students in the learning that they are being provided in our public schools,” Baesler said. “Are they excited about learning? Are they interested in learning? Are they learning about things that make them motivated and curious and passionate?

“We felt that if we could measure how engaged they are in their school and in their learning, then we can provide better ways for them to be more curious and be more excited about their learning,” Baesler continued.

The survey results showed 55 percent of the students who took the survey were engaged, which was the best result. Thirty-one percent were compliant, while 13 percent were disengaged. One percent of the responses were mixed, meaning that there was not enough data to put into one of the categories.

An “engaged” student, according to the survey, is a self-starter who volunteers to do work, values it and is diligent about completing it. A “compliant” student does what is asked and little or nothing more. A “disengaged” student often does not do work unless ordered, does not finish assignments, and attempts to mask his or her apathy.

The student engagement survey is one of the “accountability factors” that NDDPI will use to gauge how well North Dakota’s schools are doing in educating students.

Other factors include state assessment results in math, English and science, and how much those results improved over the previous year. For high schools, accountability measurements include graduation rates and whether high school graduates meet the criteria for being “Choice Ready,” which is an indicator of whether they were well prepared for success after high school.

“It is important for school leaders to know if what we are doing in our classrooms is engaging students to be involved in taking responsibility for their own learning,” Baesler said.

Joe Kolosky, assistant director of NDDPI’s Office of School Approval and Opportunity, said the survey “gives insight into a student’s thoughts and feelings about school and learning. We’re looking at it from a kid’s perspective. Kids think differently than adults do about their education.”

“A teacher may believe they are doing something very engaging for the student, but in reality the students are just compliant and wanting to get it done,” Kolosky said. “If I was a teacher and I had a result that 80 percent of my kids were compliant, I would really research and dive deeper to find out how to make them engaged. And I believe every teacher in North Dakota would do the same.”

District-by-district results of the student engagement survey will be posted soon on the NDDPI’s “dashboard” of information about North Dakota’s schools, which can be found here:

The questionnaires were designed, distributed and scored by AdvancEd, a school accreditation agency based in Alpharetta, Ga., in suburban Atlanta. It accredits public schools across North Dakota as part of a statewide school improvement process.