How much do you know about your students and their sense of belonging in your school?
YouthTruth and Re-Imagining Migration are partnering together to help you understand the school belonging climate of your school. Join us in this groundbreaking research project!
Students under stress have a hard time learning. And the forces putting pressure on young people’s lives are everywhere. Last October the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health. Trends well in place before this latest Omicron crisis have been dramatically exacerbated by protracted social isolation, substantial social losses, a national racial reckoning, and worries about learning delays. No one has been unscathed, and schools are at the eye of the storm.
Those of us who care for students often feel helpless. Where to start? How do we triage with so many needs at play?
Abraham Maslow, reminds us that belongingness—after attending to the most basic physiological and safety needs—is at the center of attaining wellbeing. Until we have a sense of belongingness and connection, we simply cannot flourish or move on to loftier levels of self-actualization.
Feeling respected, valued, liked, and cared about by adults in school and peers has been well established to be central for students’ engagement and motivation in school. Students who report a stronger sense of belonging at school are also less likely to experience stress and report increased physical and emotional health.
Social exclusion and bullying, is of course, the antithesis of social belonging and is particularly worrisome. Social exclusion has negative repercussions for social and emotional functioning, motivation, and cognition. It negatively affects student learning at school by decreasing students’ ability to focus attention, regulate emotions and behavior, or simply center on the task of learning. Data collected from over 200,000 students just prior to the pandemic already showed substantial levels of disconnection. What might it look like now? We are willing to bet, far worse.
And of course, these pressures do not impact all students equally. Students from marginalized backgrounds are at greater risk of not feeling like they belong in their school, to be the target of discriminatory remarks, or to be actively socially excluded. A 2019 study from UCLA found that 82% of administrators in US schools reported that students had made discriminatory remarks about other racial/ethnic groups. This is particularly true of immigrant students who have complex intersecting identities from diverse cultural, racial, and linguistic backgrounds. We know because we have been working with and studying immigrant-origin students for over a quarter of a century. In interviews, they have shared stories of social exclusion, revealing that they are well-aware of their marginal status in schools and society.
YouthTruth is a national nonprofit that seeks to promote youth agency as a key ingredient in prosocial school communities. Through student, family, and staff surveys they support schools and districts to “get better at getting better” so that all students can learn and thrive. Since 2008, YouthTruth has surveyed over two million stakeholders including 1,846,888 students from 39 states across 427 districts and charter networks from 2,186 schools.
Re-Imagining Migration’s mission is to advance the education and well-being of immigrant-origin youth, decrease bias and hatred against young people of diverse origins, and help rising generations develop the critical understanding and empathy necessary to build and sustain welcoming and inclusive communities. We believe that every student has the right to an inclusive education where all young people, regardless of their migration histories and experiences, feel a sense of belonging. Guided by research and experience, we create systemic change by developing supportive educators, creating inclusive programs and curriculum, and building bridges through shared narratives of migration.
With generous funding from foundations and donors, Re-Imagining Migration and YouthTruth will be launching a survey in Spring 2022. We plan on surveying public, parochial, and private HIGH schools across the country; in urban, suburban, and rural areas, across all regions.
This is an opportunity for you to learn about your school climate: How connected are your students feeling to adults in school and their peers? Which students are feeling most connected, and which are more at risk?
YouthTruth has a long-standing record of seamlessly administering 20-minute online surveys in schools with minimal disruption to the school community. After your students take this survey, you will receive:
- A report from YouthTruth that will provide a detailed analysis of your school climate (including a response rate dashboard) You will learn about who in your school feel a better sense of connection across a variety of social categories (e.g., gender; race/ethnicity; languages spoken at home; immigrant generation; socio-economic levels). You will receive a comprehensive report and will be able to see how your school compares to schools across the country and be provided both a School Leaders virtual workshop and a Student Voice Virtual Workshop (a $8500 value).
- Re-Imagining Migration will offer each participating school $3000-worth of professional services. Those services include complimentary registration for ten educators to a two-part series on creating welcoming and inclusive learning environments for immigrant-origin youth. Those that attend the webinar series will receive follow-up support in the form of free educator coaching during office hours with members of our program staff.
Our funding has made it possible for the first 20 qualifying schools that reach out to us to be provided the survey and the above services at no cost. After that, schools that are selected to participate will received these services at a subsidized cost of only $750 per school.
If you are interested, you can submit a sign up form. (There is no obligation to participate; the form is simply to express interest.) Any questions? Please reach out to us at email@example.com. We are recruiting now and look forward to hearing from you. Please note that the deadline for recruitment is February 27th 2022.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are we doing this survey?
Feeling respected, valued, liked, and cared about by adults and peers in school has been well established to be central for students’ engagement and motivation in school. Students who report a stronger sense of belonging at school are also less likely to experience stress and report increased physical and emotional health. Social exclusion and bullying, is of course, the antithesis of social belonging with particularly worrisome negative repercussions for social and emotional functioning, motivation, and cognition. These pressures certainly do not impact all students equally. Students from marginalized backgrounds are at greater risk of not feeling like they belong in their school, to be the target of discriminatory remarks, or to be actively socially excluded. Nonprofits Re-Imagining Migration and YouthTruth are partnering to help you understand the school belonging climate at your school, across various groups of students.
What will my school receive in exchange for participating in the survey?
Youth Truth will provide a report on your school climate along with access to an informational dashboard and training on how to understand and use it. You will learn about who in your school feels a sense of connection (as well as who is feeling less connected) across a variety of social categories like gender; race/ethnicity; languages spoken at home; immigrant generation; socio-economic levels, etc. The report will allow you to see how your school compares to others across the country. YouthTruth will also provide a School Leaders Virtual Workshop and a Student Voice Virtual Workshop at no cost.
Re-Imagining Migration will offer each participating school $3000-worth of professional services. Those services include complimentary registration for ten educators to a two-part series on creating welcoming and inclusive learning environments for immigrant-origin youth. Those that attend the webinar series will receive follow-up support in the form of free educator coaching during office hours with program staff.
Will our school data be shared beyond our school?
Your school data and student data will be entirely confidential. Student data is de-identified and aggregated and all schools will be assigned code numbers. YouthTruth will add your de-identified data to their existing data and Re-Imagining Migration will analyze and report on how immigrant-origin students are experiencing their school climate in comparison to their peers without identifying participating schools (beyond region and population density).
What are the costs for my school to participate?
Financial: There is no cost for the first 20 schools to enroll to participate in the survey. Thereafter, schools will be notified that they have been placed on a waiting list. If you are selected from the waiting list, you can pay to participate at a heavily subsidized rate of $750.
Student Learning Time: The survey will be conducted school-wide, in class on remote devices (phones, tablets, computers) and takes about 30 minutes. One class period should be allowed for orientation, administration, and transition.