NAIS Report on the 2017 High School Survey of Student Engagement


The High School Survey of Student Engagement (HSSSE), administered by Indiana University, is a survey designed to investigate the attitudes, perceptions, and beliefs of high school students about their work.

This report includes the results of the 2017 study sponsored by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). The results from students at 50 NAIS member schools that participated in the study are organized by the three dimensions of engagement measured by HSSSE: cognitive/intellectual/academic engagement, social/behavioral/participatory engagement, and emotional engagement. This page also includes an additional report exploring key engagement differences amongst varying age, gender, and racial ethnic groups based on the results of the 2016 HSSSE. 

Executive Summary 

Students were asked about the classroom activities and assignments that most interest or engage them. Discussions and debates, projects and lessons that involve technology, and group projects were the most engaging activities for NAIS students. Most students also indicated that their schooling contributed to the development of various academic and practical skills. For instance, 59 percent of NAIS students indicated that their schooling contributed very much to their ability to write effectively. More than six out of ten students indicated that they gave maximum effort in all or most of their classes and that their classes challenged them to their full potential. 

Students discussed how their schools play a role in their future plans. While 95 percent of NAIS high school students go to school because they want to graduate and go to college, 89 percent also attend school to learn skills and obtain a good job. 

The HSSSE also probed students on their emotional engagement with their schools. Ninety-one percent of NAIS students felt good about being in their high school; another 74 percent reported that they are an important part of their school community. 

The report includes several action items for NAIS schools to consider. Helping students develop practical career skills, addressing classroom boredom, and guiding students in the development of career goals are three ways that schools can address areas of improvement identified by the results of the 2017 HSSSE. 

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