Poll: HS Students Need Good Data to Plan Their Futures. Here’s How to Help

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Did you know that 67% of high school students found the 2021-22 school year challenging? Additionally, 54% of students say that the pandemic has changed their perspective on post-graduation plans. It’s not surprising to hear these statistics. As students begin the new school year, it’s crucial for education leaders and advocates to pay attention to what the students are telling us and how we can support them.

This year, the Data Quality Campaign (DQC) partnered with the Kentucky Student Voice Team to conduct a survey with high school students nationwide. The results of this survey showed that students feel uninformed about their own learning journey. Only 35% reported that their school provides them with information about postsecondary education and career paths. Similarly, just 35% of students know if the courses they’re taking are adequately preparing them for higher education. Less than half of the respondents received essential information about their academic performance, such as meeting grade-level expectations, graduation progress, or overall academic growth throughout the year.

Furthermore, students lack crucial information about their options after graduation, such as outcomes for similar students at different postsecondary institutions and in various careers. A staggering 80% of students agreed that better access to information would increase their confidence in choosing their future path.

Unfortunately, even school leaders who strive to support students lack the necessary information. DQC’s partnership with AASA, The School Superintendents Association, revealed that 98% of district leaders would feel more confident making decisions for their districts if they had better access to data. Despite their efforts, one in four superintendents still lack the necessary data to support students adequately. Over half of these superintendents desire data from their state on the post-high school outcomes of their students.

If the leaders responsible for supporting students lack the right data, it becomes challenging for students to navigate the changing landscape of postsecondary education and the evolving economy. The solution is evident – students must have access to data regarding their progress and potential pathways and be able to use that data to inform their decisions.

Students require information that instills confidence in their academic progress and future choices. They need real-time information about their current performance. They also need data on educational and workforce opportunities, as well as insights into how their peers have fared on different college and career paths. Without this information, students are left to hope that they stumble upon the best solution for their futures.

To address this, states must allocate resources to enhance their data systems. By doing so, students and superintendents can access the timely information they require. Currently, valuable data often lags behind, reflecting the performance of previous students rather than the present ones. Students are aware of the data they need to simplify important life decisions and ensure smoother transitions. It’s time for leaders to prioritize providing them with this crucial information.

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  • rhysgraham

    Rhys Graham is an educational blogger and professor who writes about topics such as literacy, mathematics, and science. He has written several books, including one on the history of science. He is also the co-founder of the website Learn Out Loud, which helps educators create and share classroom activities.