Indiana University

News Release

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Last modified: Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Gender differences, safety concerns, higher expectations for all

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More than 80,000 high school students respond to Indiana University survey

AUG. 17, 2005

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Male students and many students of color need a more nurturing learning environment, according to the 2005 High School Survey of Student Engagement. The findings, released today (Aug. 17), indicate that academic expectations for all students should be more challenging and reveal that only 55 percent of the students in the nationwide survey feel safe at school.

"Efforts to improve high schools cannot succeed unless all students feel secure in the learning environment and are involved in activities that matter to their learning," said Martha McCarthy, Chancellor's Professor of Education and director of HSSSE.

Here are some key findings from the annual survey, which obtained responses from more than 80,000 high school students in 19 states:

"High schools need to expect more from students at every grade level if college aspirations of many students are to be realized," McCarthy said.

This is the second year the student engagement survey has asked about issues -- such as safety, study and work-for-pay habits, extracurricular participation, and even time spent talking on the telephone or playing video games -- which can support or hinder students' academic success and performance on achievement tests. Student engagement is important, McCarthy said, because students who are more involved in various aspects of high school get better grades, are more satisfied and are more likely to graduate.

Additional HSSSE 2005 results and information about how schools can participate in the survey in 2006 can be found at

Here is a sampling of other findings:

Each participating school receives a customized report comparing its results to those of all HSSSE participants nationally. Schools are able to use the results to make changes that can improve the learning environment for their students. One urban school, for example, responded to data indicating that most of its students were studying less than three hours a week by creating a homework hot-line staffed by honor students. Teachers in the same district also incorporated bonus questions based on homework assignments.

HSSSE staff do not release information to the public or media about individual schools. However, participating schools can choose to release their results.

To speak with McCarthy, contact Tracy James at 812-855-0084 or

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