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Engaged, Accepted, Safe and Happy, By Chaim Heller, Head of School

Chaim final constant contactAs part of our commitment to self-improvement, we participate in the National High School Survey of Student Engagement, (HSSSE), every year. This Indiana University survey is administered to independent and public schools throughout the US and is focused on measuring how engaged students are in their academic learning, their interaction within the school and their sense of connection to the school. I’d like to share a summary of the results from our recent analysis of data from last year.

  • Our high school students score above their public school counterparts in all measures of engagement on the survey, without exception.
  • Our students score above their peers from independent schools in the following:
    • Overall, I feel good about being in this high school.
    • I care about this school.
    • I feel safe in this school.
    • My opinions are respected at this school.
    • I feel supported by my teachers.
    • I feel supported by other students.
    • I feel supported by administration.
    • My experiences at this school have contributed to developing personal beliefs and values.
    • I have often connected ideas from one class to another.
    • I spend _____ hours per week doing volunteer work.
    • If I could choose a high school right now, I would choose this school.
  • Our students score even with their independent school peers in the following:
    • Teachers engage me in classroom discussions.
    • My high school emphasizes teaching ideas in depth.
  • Our students score lower than their peers from independent schools in the following:
    • I have been bored in class.
    • My high school emphasizes participating in school events and activities.
    • My high school emphasizes building positive relationships with students of different backgrounds.

The results of the HSSSE are a snapshot in time, a single test taken for an hour in the spring. That said, after four years of the survey and seeing similar results, we believe these to be reliable indicators of the high school experience at SDJA. And while we continue to look closely at those three areas in which we perform lower than the norm in independent schools, the other results point to what we have positively created at the Academy: A high school where students feel engaged, accepted, safe and happy.


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