Student stress data used for school change
It’s been no secret that today’s students are stressed out, but now there is data to prove it. This past spring, RIDE released the Surveyworks data from surveys which were given out to students in grades three and up, as well as to parents, teachers and support staff earlier in the 2016-17 school year.
Cranston administrators, faculty and staff examined the released data from the survey and, although there were some favorable trends, especially at the elementary level, several common themes became clear, all across the board.
“There was a theme that stretched across all demographics, throughout our whole district,” said Superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse. “The students reported having anxiety at every level, from elementary through high school, being stressed out about grades and about things in their lives. Their school pride starts out at the elementary level as being pretty robust, but diminishes the older the children get, along with their excitement about school.”
Superintendent Nota-Masse emphasized that the issues with school pride and student anxiety are not issues in isolation.
“These things affect attendance, affect students not feeling connected to their schools, and kids not wanting to go to school,” she said. “I think that children are having difficulty coping with the challenges and obstacles they’re encountering. They are easily frustrated if things don’t go their way quickly and they are having difficulty coping and problem-solving.”
The superintendent asked each administrator to examine their own school’s data and to look at both the favorable responses, which can be celebrated, and to look at areas of significant need, choosing some focus areas going forward where changes and enhancements will be made in order to address the evidence and work to better support their students. The data is presented in a way in which schools can see their responses in isolation, as compared to other schools in the district, and as compared to other schools across the state.
To that end, across the city, individual schools are using the Surveyworks data to anchor their Positive Behavioral Intervention and Supports (PBIS) work during the school year and focusing on social-emotional learning. Guidance counselors will be looking to further enhance their programs in order to support their students.
Changes and enhancements at the building level include incorporating mindfulness training and teaching coping skills for students, using more engaging and interactive materials for daily instruction in the regular classroom setting, tying instructional materials to real life situations, putting in stress and anxiety management curriculum in classes such as health and physical education and educating parents about student stress and anxiety as well.
Additionally, a Dean of Students is being appointed this month for Hugh B. Bain Middle School to help address some of the areas of need.
“We are using that person to really support kids and teachers, not as an administrator, but as a liaison between families, teachers and kids,” she said. “This is not meant to be a threatening or punitive, but to work on the social-emotional pieces and to try to be proactive and to assist the administration in getting to the root causes of why kids aren’t engaged, and why they aren’t coming to school.”
As the school year goes on, other Dean of Students positions may also be added in other buildings where there is a significant need.
The SurveyWorks survey will be issued again during this school year.