There is a Gallup poll for nearly everything you can imagine — how often smartphone users check their phones, where travelers feel most safe, and, most notably, politicians’ approval ratings.
But Highland Park ISD is using Gallup polling for something entirely different: students’ well-being. For years, the school district has been testing its fifth, seventh, ninth, and 12th graders on topics that are not entirely academic. Again this fall, about 1,800 students filled out the survey that focuses on their emotional associations with school, rather than their ABCs.
“A lot of times with standardized tests, we’re focused on the weakness and how we can improve them, but with this poll, we can really find our strengths, how we’re really guiding and helping our students,” said Lydia Walden, HPISD director of academics and support services.
gallup poll facts
- Gallup provides its voluntary and confidential polling each year at no cost to HPISD and other school districts.
- The poll assesses the hope, engagement, entrepreneurial aspirations, and career and financial literacy of students.
- Gallup aggregates and analyzes the results each fall, allowing HPISD to share with students, parents, and faculty.
- HPISD’s 2014 results showed high marks for well-being and hope, with engagement as an area of potential growth.
Administered online, the poll helps the district measure students’ engagement and hope for the future, giving them advice on how to encourage hem to be successful. To statements like, “My teachers make me feel my schoolwork is important” and “I have a great future ahead of me,” the poll solicits responses ranked from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The poll also asks questions related to entrepreneurship and financial literacy.
“This looks at the child as a whole and it is really an indicator on how our students will perform in college, which isn’t just about academics,” said Walden, who is the poll administrator. “It’s also based on how they interact and develop relationships with the teachers here in the district and how engaged they are in the classroom.”
The 24-question poll is also designed to help teachers realize how they can influence their students. It’s up to each school’s principal to decide how the information from the Gallup poll will be used in classrooms.
“Based on the Park Cities’ social and socioeconomic base, these kids are hopefully going to be involved citizens and future leaders of the community,” Walden said. “And we can see that we’re really make a difference in their life after their time at HPISD.”