school lockersOne-third of Richardson ISD high school and junior high students find their homework and assignments interesting and only half say their teachers talk about stimulating subjects in class, according to a new survey commissioned by the RISD. One in ten 7th graders has considered dropping out.

Results of the Student Satisfaction and Engagement Survey were published May 19th, and they reveal successes of the district and a few challenges. The study sought to measure issues such as perceived academic challenge, learning preferences, teacher and parent support and reasons for dropping out.

You can get the ground rules and technical aspects of the survey on the RISD website here. A total of 7,833 high school students went online with their student ID to respond (81%), and 4,920 junior high kids participated (88%). Participants were 32% Hispanic, 31% White and 20% African-American. For 71%, the language spoken most often at home was English, for 19% it was Spanish.

In their 40-page report, K12 Insight, the firm which analyzed the survey, noted that 91% of students perceive that they can get good grades if they try hard and 90% believe they can learn if they want to. Over 90% say their parents expect them to continue their education after high school, their parents believe they can do well in school and encourage them to do their best, and they plan to go to college.

Academically, one-third to one-half of students questioned the rigor and relevance of the curriculum in their core courses. Though the RISD had set a goal of 90%, only 52 to 70% of students found English, Math, Science and Social Studies courses to be challenging and meaningful learning experiences. Of those who questioned the challenge, more than half said the material was too easy. Only 41% look forward to what they’ll do in school tomorrow.

Socially, only two-thirds say they attend school activities with friends, and equal numbers are interested in extracurriculars or perceive that they “belong” at school.

Because the state’s accountability system evaluates districts and schools based on their dropout and graduation rates, reasons for student dropouts was a particular point of study. More than 60% of high school students considering dropping out said they don’t like school – that school is boring- and half don’t see the value of the work they’re asked to do. These numbers eclipsed answers such as: “The work is too hard” (35%); “I don’t like my teachers” (29%); and “I have to work to help my family” (18%).

Moving forward, survey results will be examined by RISD trustees in conjunction with RISD’s Vision 2020 and District Improvement Plan. Their strategies for improvement will be integrated into campus improvement plans throughout the district.