School Climate & Safety

Gallup Asked U.S. Students to Grade Their Schools. Here’s the Report Card

By Arianna Prothero — June 16, 2023 2 min read
Vector illustration of a woman filling out an online form with letter grades
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If students could rate their schools, what grade would they give them? The polling firm Gallup asked students just that.

The result? A “B-" for U.S. schools.

That’s the average from more than 2,000 responses from 5th through 12th graders surveyed at the end of the recently completed 2022-23 school year. Gallup surveyed the children from a representative sample of adults. While schools got a passing grade overall, students say there is room for improvement, especially when it comes to supporting their mental health, making them excited to learn, and preparing them for potential careers.

The poll is the inaugural survey that is part of a larger effort by Gallup and the Walton Family Foundation to study the experiences of youth in schools. The foundation is the philanthropic arm of Walmart founder Sam Walton’s heirs and has been a longtime funder of education initiatives—especially those related to increasing school choice.

(The Walton Family Foundation provides support for Education Week coverage of strategies for advancing opportunities for students most in need. Education Week retains sole editorial control over its coverage.)

The highest grades schools earned, a straight B, were for keeping students physically safe and respecting students for who they are regardless of race and ethnicity, gender, and identity. Three-quarters of students gave schools an A or B grade in those categories, with nearly half of students—48 percent—awarding their school an A grade for respecting them regardless of their identity. Forty-three percent gave their school an A grade for keeping them safe.

But that is the high-water mark. After that, no other topic gets an A grade from more than 30 percent of students. And how students rated their school varied based on several factors.

“The research highlights just how different the educational experience is for each student,” Gallup said in a press release. “For example, only a third of Black students give their school an ‘A’ for ‘respecting who you are regardless of your race/ethnicity, gender and identity, compared with 53% of Hispanic students and 50% of white students.”

Students who earn good grades were also far more likely to give their school an A rating for making them feel included than students with struggling grades.

When it comes to supporting students’ mental health, teaching in ways adapted to students’ unique learning needs, teaching about potential careers, and making students excited about learning, schools earned a C+ overall—the lowest grade assigned.

Slightly more than half of students rated their schools with either an A or B grade on supporting their mental health, teaching about potential careers, and adapting teaching to students’ needs. Nearly a quarter gave their schools either a D or F on those three fronts.

Fewer than half of students said their school earned an A or B grade on making them excited to learn.

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