Transforming School Culture Through Student Feedback: One School’s Experience

How do you change the culture of a school?

If you have five minutes today, I hope you’ll watch Principal Brennon Sapp of Scott High School in Taylor Mill, Kentucky talking about how hard it was to change the culture of learning at his school and how student feedback from the YouthTruth survey helped him do just that.

Watch the video to hear about the student feedback Dr. Sapp says will “haunt him to his grave”
—and what he did about it.

 

When you listen to Dr. Sapp, it’s obvious he’s a professional who’s passionate about helping his students learn. For him, the YouthTruth survey results brought to light some challenges in the relationships between students and teachers at his school. Using the data and insight delivered by YouthTruth, Dr. Sapp and his staff were able to focus on critical aspects of school culture that needed to be strengthened. Working with the students, Dr. Sapp and his team built a new culture that promoted deeper classroom engagement and improved student performance.

In reflecting on Scott High School’s dramatic decrease in failure rates, Dr. Sapp says,

“I’ve been in the classes and working with the teachers. It’s not just teachers passing kids; it’s teachers intervening with kids, it’s teachers really pushing kids to get work done and to do quality work and to do things over and to try things again—and you can’t do that unless the kids know you care.”

But the best part for me is when Dr. Sapp talks about sharing the feedback with students, leading to a real conversation between students and the adults who are there to support their learning and growth. When learning is a partnership that includes the voice of the students, real change is possible. This is the key principle of YouthTruth and it’s why we’re excited to be expanding our survey to new schools around the country.

 

Jen Vorse Wilka is a Manager for YouthTruth.

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