The Chalkboard Project partnered with DHM Research to survey 400 high school students across the state to gauge their opinions on education in Oregon. The survey asked a broad range of questions about their educational experiences and their thoughts about what is needed to strengthen the education system. The survey builds upon previous focus groups with students.
“The voices of advocates, educators, administrators and policymakers can often overshadow the voices of those who are at the heart of the education system—the students,” said Chalkboard Project President, Sue Hildick. “We feel it is critical to hear what Oregon students have to say about their schools.”
The broad survey revealed a number of key findings:
1. Students feel more positive about their own education than about the education system as a whole.
- Overall, 54 percent of students are satisfied with the quality of public education all students receive. 69 percent are satisfied with the quality of public education they personally have received.
- 74 percent of students agree that too many students in the local public schools are falling through the cracks.
- 77 percent of students believe that additional funding is needed for K-12 education.
2. When asked to explain why they were satisfied or unsatisfied with their own education, students mentioned the quality of their teachers more than any other factor.
- 26 percent of students who are satisfied with their education mentioned quality/helpful teachers as the reason (7 percent mentioned challenging classes, 7 percent mentioned the variety of classes and activities).
- 20 percent of students who were not satisfied mentioned incompetent/bad/careless teachers as the reason (16 percent mentioned a lack of challenge or said school was “boring,” 14 percent mentioned a lack of “real world” learning, 6 percent mentioned large class sizes).
3. Students want to be challenged and held to content standards that are consistent from state to state.
- 45 percent of students think that public schools in Oregon today expect students to learn too little. 17 percent said “too much,” 34 percent said “about right,” 4 percent didn’t know.
- 49 percent of students think that at every grade level, students should have clear and consistent standards for what they are expected to know and those standards should be consistent from state to state. 30 percent believe standards consistent throughout Oregon, 14 percent believe individual teachers should determine standards.
4. Students believe that a teacher’s impact on student learning should be considered when making hiring and salary decisions.
- When asked if they favor or oppose creating a different pay system for Oregon’s public school teachers that compensates teachers based on their experience, performance, and workload compared to just seniority, 77 percent were in favor.
- 87 percent of students agree that a teacher’s impact on student academic growth should be one factor in teacher hiring, salary and tenure decisions.
5. Students do not believe that graduation rates are the best indicator of how a school district is doing to improve student achievement.
- 40 percent chose student academic growth as the best indicator; 26 percent chose the number of students meeting academic benchmarks; and 17 percent chose graduation rates as the best indicator.
6. Students feel safe at school, but believe more must be done to address bullying.
- 70 percent of students think their school is safe.
- 77 percent of students agree that bullying in schools is a serious problem and additional legislation is needed to address it.
Data graphs give a visual perspective on the results.
In the past DHM has surveyed voters on many of the same questions they asked of students. The opinions of these adults closely aligned with those of high school students.
“The public perception is that the opinions of students and adults widely differ,” said Co-Founder and Principal of DHM Research, Adam Davis. “But, our latest polls show that this is not the case. Individuals ranging from students to teachers to parents see the same gaps in Oregon’s education system and support the work that will provide a better education for all students.”