Academic Motivation of California Students

High Levels of Academic Motivation (Student Reported), by Grade Level: 2015-2017

Academic motivation is directly tied to educational outcomes and associated with positive behaviors in children. Schools with higher populations of academically motivated students reinforce individual academic success and contribute to a supportive school environment. Interestingly, student and teacher reports of students’ levels of academic motivation vary greatly. In California, about one-half of 7th graders, one-third of 9th graders, one-fourth of 11th graders, and one-fifth of students in non-traditional schools reported high levels of academic motivation during the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years. In contrast, fewer than one in ten school staff members reported that nearly all students were motivated to learn at each of the middle school, high school, and non-traditional school levels.

Across the grade levels surveyed, greater percentages of girls reported high levels of academic motivation compared with boys. Also, greater percentages of students who were Asian or white reported high levels of academic motivation compared with students who were African American/black or multiracial. Comparisons are also available by parent education level, sexual orientation, and level of school connectedness and for counties and school districts.

Academic motivation is associated with a positive school climate. When students feel safe and connected to school, interact with caring staff, and participate meaningfully, they generally perform well academically and engage in healthy behaviors. By addressing factors related to school climate, like academic motivation, we strengthen the school community and support each child’s well-being.

Learn more about academic motivation »

Additional Resources

Engaging all school stakeholders – leaders, staff, students, families, and community members – is important to develop and maintain a shared understanding of a positive school climate and how it can be achieved. The Safe and Supportive Schools website, developed by WestEd for the California Department of Education, offers tools to support data-driven school climate improvement.

Recently Released Data

We recently released data about School Safety and School Climate. See links to the latest here.

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