High school fails to engage students
Alvin P. Sanoff, special for
A majority of high school
students in the
56% of students surveyed said they put a great deal of effort into
schoolwork; only 43% said they work harder than they expected to. The
study says 55% of students devote no more than three hours a week to class
preparation, but 65% of these report getting A's or B's.
on the college track devoted the most time to preparation, but only 37%
spent seven or more hours a week on schoolwork, compared with 22% of all
high school students. Among seniors, just 11% of those on the college
track said they spent seven or more hours a week on assigned reading,
compared with 7% of all seniors.
18% of college-track seniors did not take a math course during their last
year in high school. That could help explain why studies show that 22% of
college students require remediation in math.
McCarthy, a senior professor at
new study is part of a long-term project called the High School Survey of
Student Engagement, a companion project since 2004 to the National Survey
of Student Engagement, which has been administered to 900,000 students at
four-year colleges since 2000. Both projects are supported primarily by
schools interested in learning about the attitudes and experiences of
says many high schools have been surprised to find how little time
students spend on homework and have instituted changes, such as brief
quizzes based on homework assignments.
study found that as students advance through high school, they are less
likely to feel challenged to do their best work. Researchers also found
that a higher proportion of students are likely to spend four or more
hours a week doing personal reading online than doing assigned reading for
says students' positive attitudes toward school were highly correlated
with coming to class prepared, participating in discussions and getting
prompt feedback from teachers. But 56% of students said they never or only
sometimes get prompt feedback.
The results probably will provide momentum to a growing effort to reform high schools. In February, a survey of recent graduates found that whether they went on to college or entered the workforce, about 40% said they were not adequately prepared in school. That study was done in conjunction with the first National Education Summit, an event aimed at rallying governors around high school reform. A number of governors have pledged to make high school reform a priority.