A new report uncovers key insights into students’ most pressing challenges and offers tips on how schools can respond.

Summary: A new report by Challenge Success reveals a pattern of insufficient sleep and high stress among over 270,000 high school students surveyed over 14 years. Students who get more sleep reported better ability to cope with stress. The data highlights disparities, with girls/women and gender-diverse students experiencing higher academic pressure, and those groups along with Black students reporting lower engagement and belonging. The report urges schools to prioritize student well-being through positive school climates and addressing physical and mental health needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • Lack of sleep and high stress levels are prevalent issues for high school students.
  • Academic pressure and lack of engagement/belonging disproportionately affect certain demographic groups.
  • Creating positive school environments and supporting student health are critical for improving engagement.

A new report analyzing data from over 270,000 high school students reveals a consistent pattern of insufficient sleep and high stress levels.

The Student Voice Report by Challenge Success, a non-profit affiliated with the Stanford University Graduate School of Education, features data and insights on students’ feelings of well-being, belonging, and engagement in high schools across the United States.

The study analyzed data from more than 270,000 high school students over 14 years.

Study Findings

 Notable findings include:

  • Sleep and Stress: Throughout the duration of the study, students consistently report insufficient sleep and high levels of stress. However, students who get more sleep report having an easier time coping with stress.
  • Pressure to Succeed: Girls/women and gender-diverse students report experiencing higher pressure to perform well in school when compared to boys/men.
  • Sense of Engagement and Belonging: Student engagement and belonging are closely correlated with academic performance and success. Challenge Success analyzed various factors contributing to student engagement and found that students identifying as gender diverse, girls/women, and Black report lower levels of engagement and belonging when compared to their peers. Across all populations, the majority of students are not fully engaged in their schools.
  • School Climate and Culture: This report finds that an individual school’s climate and culture can make a significant impact on student experience and engagement. Key factors contributing to a positive school culture include respectful and understanding relationships between staff and students, policies that accommodate individual needs, and a general atmosphere that promotes mutual respect and encouragement.

“The findings in the Student Voice Report highlight key areas where schools can take meaningful actions to support their students’ well-being,” says Megan Pacheco, executive director of Challenge Success, in a release. “By focusing on creating a collaborative and positive school environment where all students are valued and respected and feel that they belong, we can pave the way for more engaged learning for all students.”

The report offers several recommendations to improve student engagement and well-being, including prioritizing both physical and mental health, providing students with relevant and meaningful academic experiences, and nurturing a positive, respectful, and caring school culture.

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