Student Well-Being

Academic Pressure on Rise for Teens, Poll Finds

By Scott J. Cech — August 05, 2008 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

High school students are more pessimistic about the future of the country and feeling more stress over grades, compared with their counterparts earlier this decade, but are still confident about their own futures, according to a report released today.

The latest edition of “The State of Our Nation’s Youth,” which has published poll results episodically since 1996, finds a marked increase in academic pressure reported among the nation’s teenagers.

The proportion of students reporting that pressure to get good grades creates a problem for them increased from 62 percent in 2001 to 79 percent this year, according to the report, which was issued by The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, a Washington-based nonprofit educational association. Over that same period, the percentage of those reporting grade pressure who classified it as “major” has risen 19 percentage points, to 45 percent.

The amount of time that surveyed teenagers reported spending on their homework is also up. In the latest report, 21 percent of students said they spent more than 10 hours a week on homework, up 9 percentage points from 2005.

The latest survey found that the proportion of high schoolers feeling hopeful and optimistic about the country has fallen 22 percentage points since 2003 — from 75 percent that year to 53 percent in 2008. Students’ top concerns in the new poll were the economy and the war on Iraq, at 34 percent and 31 percent respectively.

However, 88 percent of the 1,006 public and private school 9th to 12th graders, ages 13 to 19, who were surveyed in April described themselves as confident, and 66 percent said they were optimistic about their own futures.

Peter D. Hart, the president of the Washington-based polling company Peter D. Hart Research Associates, which conducted the survey, said in a statement: “What emerges from the research results is a portrait of a generation who believe in themselves and their abilities, despite anxieties about the country.”

Grading Their High Schools

While the amounts of academic pressure and time spent on homework have increased over the past six years, according to the report, students’ academic performance and perceptions about their schools have stayed mostly static.

Despite intensive efforts to improve public schooling in recent years, the grade point average high schoolers assigned their schools this year — 2.7 — is the same as it was in 2001.

As for their own grades, the proportion of students reporting that they got mostly B’s or better on their latest report cards has fluctuated — from 61 percent in 2001 to 70 percent in 2004 to 67 percent this year.

The proportion of students planning on postsecondary education remains high, although slightly fewer students plan to attend four-year colleges or universities: In this year’s report, 70 percent of respondents said they were headed to bachelor’s-level institutions — down 6 percentage points from 2005. Over that same time span, the proportion of students reporting plans to attend a community or technical college after high school rose 5 percentage points, to 23 percent.

“The State of Our Nation’s Youth” has not tracked Internet usage consistently from report to report, but this year’s version reflects the burgeoning of social-networking Web sites and entertainment Web applications over the past few years. Surveyed teenagers reported spending more than 13 hours online per week communicating with friends and entertaining themselves, compared with not quite five hours per week online for homework.

The margin of error for the poll is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Professional Development Webinar
Strategies for Improving Student Outcomes with Teacher-Student Relationships
Explore strategies for strengthening teacher-student relationships and hear how districts are putting these methods into practice to support positive student outcomes.
Content provided by Panorama Education
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Classroom Technology Webinar
Transform Teaching and Learning with AI
Increase productivity and support innovative teaching with AI in the classroom.
Content provided by Promethean
Curriculum Webinar Computer Science Education Movement Gathers Momentum. How Should Schools React?
Discover how schools can expand opportunities for students to study computer science education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being Opinion ‘The Timing Is Critical’: How Schools Can Help Refugee Students
Two clinical psychologists suggest several low-cost and effective interventions to help welcome refugee and immigrant families.
Jeffrey P. Winer & Luna A. Mulder
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of a garden growing from adversity
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Student Well-Being Half of School Nurses Report Being Harassed, Threatened
The past few years have been tough for school nurses for a few different reasons.
2 min read
Missy Gendron RN, Lewiston High School nurse, unpacks pooled COVID-19 testing materials on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021, at Lewiston High School in Lewiston, Maine. Gendron is going to be doing a walk through with staff next week. Classroom pooled testing is planned for the week following. Consent for COVID-19 pooled testing is being collected from parents now.
Missy Gendron, a nurse at Lewiston High School in Maine, unpacks COVID-19 testing materials in September 2021.
Andree Kehn/Sun Journal via AP
Student Well-Being School Sports Participation Drops, Raising Concern About 'Physical Learning Loss'
But interest in e-sports and inclusive teams is rising.
5 min read
The Michigan City High School Girls Varsity Basketball team hosted a Future Wolves basketball camp for elementary and middle school girls on Saturday, March 5, 2022 at the high school.
The varsity girls basketball team at Michigan City High School in Michigan City, Ind., hosted a basketball camp for elementary and middle school girls last spring.
Kelley Smith/The News Dispatch via AP
Student Well-Being Biden's National Strategy on Hunger: What It Means for Schools
The administration seeks more access to free school meals and nutritious foods. But a universal free meals bill is stalled in Congress.
4 min read
President Joe Biden speaks during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, at the Ronald Reagan Building, Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in Washington on Sept. 28.
Evan Vucci/AP