Student concern with classroom safety has increased in the Deer Valley Unified School District, according to a recent poll.
The Governing Board last week discussed the annual findings of the Gallup Student Poll, taken by district students in grades 5-12. The district has participated since 2011 in the free poll, which measures four key areas that link to student success — engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspiration and financial literacy.
“The perception of safety has changed in the last three years,” said Dr. Scott Smith, district director if data analysis and accountability. “This is something we want to pay attention to as a district.”
He said staff will work on addressing the safety perception to improve it for next year’s poll.
Board member Kimberly Fisher asked if the poll drilled down to whether students were concerned about physical or emotional safety.
Mr. Scott said the poll asked just one question about safety and did not break it down. Students were to rate the statement, “I feel safe in this school” on a five-point scale, where one being strongly disagree and five as strongly agree.
The 2016 results showed district students gave safety a 3.92 score, down from 3.94 the year prior. Students in 5th-7th grades felt more safe in school while those in the 11th grade were the most to feel unsafe.
Ms. Fisher said it was important to distinguish between the physical and emotional safety.
“Kids can feel perfectly safe physically that no one will shoot them or break into their classroom but not feel safe emotionally,” she said. “To me that is a significant concern.”
Mr. Smith said October was the month leading up to the presidential election and people have suggested that might have affected how students responded to the question. He said staff was still assessing students’ perception of hope and engagement and the two new categories entrepreneurial aspiration and financial literacy, which were added last year to see what can be used by the district.
The poll’s findings show 47 percent of the 19,247 student respondents said they were involved in and enthusiastic about school while 28 percent said they were not engaged and 23 percent said they were actively disengaged. Compared with the overall results in the country, 49 percent of students said they were engaged, 29 percent said they were not engaged and 29 percent said they were actively disengaged.
When it comes to hope, which looked at ideas and energy students have for the future, 48 percent of 19,901 district students said they had hope, 32 percent said they were stuck and 18 percent said they were discouraged. Nationwide, 47 percent said they were hopeful, 34 percent said they were stuck and 19 percent said they were discouraged.
Mr. Smith said the percentage of district students who were hopeful fell a bit from the prior year.
Other poll results show 62 percent of the students anticipated attending a four-year university after graduation, while 7 percent plan on a two-year college. Ten percent did not know what they will do after they graduate high school and 4 percent planned to enter the military.
This year 95.1 percent of 5th-12th graders completed the online 24-question survey, according to Mr. Smith.
“This is by far the highest participation rate we’ve had with the district,” he said.