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Where Do We Go Next? Youth Insights on the High School Experience During a Year of Historic Upheaval

Our new report, Where Do We Go Next? Youth Insights on the High School Experience During a Year of Historic Upheaval, made in collaboration with America’s Promise Alliance, presents findings from a national survey focused on understanding the experiences, assets, and conditions that have shaped young people’s high school experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing national reckoning with racial injustice. Where Do We Go Next? aims to characterize young people’s school-based experiences (in-person or remote) over the past year to inform youth-centered policy, practice, and recovery efforts moving forward.

Overall, young people’s responses to this national survey suggest that:

  • Finding 1: High schoolers are struggling with a decreased sense of well being — reporting declines in mental health and concerning levels of disconnection from peers and adults.
  • Finding 2: Opportunities to learn about race and racism in the classroom vary but are associated with higher levels of critical consciousness and social action.
  • Finding 3: COVID-19 has upended postsecondary planning, yet feelings of postsecondary readiness are highest among students who are most connected to teachers and peers, have opportunities to learn about race and racism in school, and feel academically interested and challenged.

These findings illuminate several recommendations for school and district leaders to act on in both the immediate recovery period and afterwards:

  • Recommendation 1: Address student mental health, now and on an ongoing basis.
  • Recommendation 2: Teach a comprehensive and accurate history of race and racism in the United States.
  • Recommendation 3: Prioritize postsecondary success through relevant content and pathways planning.
  • Recommendation 4: Saturate young people’s environments with caring adult relationships.

Read the full report to learn more.