Portland Public Schools administered a survey during the 2018-2019 school year to students, parents and staff that asked questions regarding school climate, sense of safety in schools, sense of belonging and teacher-student relationships, among other categories specific to respondent roles.
The survey was distributed to 5th graders as a gauge for elementary student attitudes, and distributed to 7th and 10th graders to gauge secondary student sentiments.
The data reveals that student outlook on critical school issues regressed as they moved from elementary school to middle and high school.
The results of that survey were made available this week, and all of the categories but school safety received less than 50 percent "favorable" responses from 5,770 student respondents in the 7th and 10th grades.
One of the categories, school climate, asked questions regarding if school rules were administered fairly, if teachers seemed excited to teach, and if the energy within the school was positive or negative. In no demographic did the majority of students have a favorable view.
The racial breakdown of respondents did not vary significantly for school climate. 35 percent of African American respondents responded favorably, whereas white respondents responded 39 percent favorably. Native Americans had the lowest rate of favorability, with 32 percent responding favorably.
When 7th and 10th graders were prompted with questions regarding their individual sense of belonging within their school communities, 34 percent of students responded favorably. 60 percent of elementary students responded favorably to that category.
One of the questions under that umbrella prompted, "How much do you matter to others at this school?" Only 33 percent of students responded favorably. 527 students responded that they did not matter at all.
When asked if they were excited to attend class, only 15 percent of the middle and high school respondents answered favorably, compared to 47 percent of favorable responses from 5th graders.
The survey has been used across the United States in different school districts. Compared to other districts, PPS ranked near the bottom 10th percentile of favorability amongst middle and high school respondents for four out of five of its overarching categories.
The one category that rose above the others and was near the 50th percentile compared to the national spectrum of responses regarded school safety, including questions asking about treatment from other students and staff, school fights and violence.
Elementary student results show slightly more positive results. The only category where the district fell beneath national averages was regarding school climate. In the other four categories, district responses ranked near or above the 50th percentile of national responses.
A detailed breakdown of survey data by individual school is available here.