Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health      

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The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health | March 27, 2015

Missed Connections: What Students Say About Their Schools

Students who feel "connected" to their schools—meaning that they feel treated fairly, close to people, happy, part of, and safe at school—are more likely to fare better academically. Yet in a 2011-13 survey only about 45% of California students in grades 7, 9, 11 and non-traditional schools reported that they felt a high level of school connectedness.

See school connectedness data for counties and school districts.

Schools can foster student connectedness by creating safe conditions for learning. Connectedness is associated with better school attendance, retention, and test scores, and lower rates of emotional problems, substance abuse, early sexual initiation, violence, and other risky behaviors.

The surveyed students also responded to other questions that shed light on their school’s atmosphere for learning, also known as school climate:

  • A little under half expressed high agreement that teachers and others had high expectations of them
  • Only 34 percent expressed a high level of agreement that adults at their school cared about them
  • Less than 15 percent reported a high level of agreement that they had opportunities for meaningful participation at school (see chart)

The student survey is part of California’s Safe and Supportive Schools initiative, launched in 2010 with a grant from the federal government. The initiative is designed to help address disruptive behaviors in school—such as bullying, harassment and violence, and substance use—and promote safe, caring, engaging, and healthy school environments that foster learning and well-being among students and staff.

See Related Data

Helpful Links

California Safe and Supportive Schools, WestEd

Community Matters: School Climate Resources

National Center of Safe Supportive Learning Environments, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students

School Connectedness, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A Climate for Academic Success: How School Climate Distinguishes School That Are Beating the Achievement Odds (PDF)

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Level of Agreement that there Are Opportunities for Meaningful Participation at School Among 7th, 9th, 11th Graders, and Non-Traditional Students in California
Years: 2011-2013

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