Challenge Success: Student Survey Executive Summary

Challenge Success–Stanford Surveys of School Experiences: Student Survey Results, Spring 2019

Executive Summary Report 

Survey Background

The Challenge Success – Stanford Surveys of School Experiences are online surveys that ask students and parents to give their perspectives on a variety of areas related to their school lives. These areas include: perspectives on homework, extracurricular activities, free time, sleep, physical health, stress related to school and academics, cheating, academic engagement, teacher support, and parent expectations. The results of this survey are intended to help your school identify students’ perspective on what the school currently does well, as well as areas for growth. The data and findings can be useful tools in guiding practice and policy changes. Thomas Jefferson students took the Student Survey in October, 2018. Approximately 1575 students completed the survey. Parents were given the opportunity to opt their children out of the survey and students had to give their assent in order to take the survey. Student responses are confidential; students were not asked for their names, birth dates, or identification numbers.

This report summarizes key findings. Please contact Mark Forgash, [email protected], for the full results.

Key Findings

School Support & Engagement

  • “Difficult or Stressful,” used by 53% of students, is the most common category of words students use to describe Thomas Jefferson. “Challenging or Rigorous” is the next most common category, used by 37% of students. Other categories used by at least 14% of students are “Competitive,” “Interesting or Engaging,” and “Fun.”
  • 35% of students are “doing school,” meaning they “often” or “always” do their work, but “rarely” or “never” enjoy or value it. An additional 33% are “purposefully engaged,” meaning they “often” or “always” do their work and value it, but “never” or “rarely” enjoy it. 22% are “fully engaged,” meaning they also enjoy their work. 5% are “disengaged,” meaning they neither do, enjoy, nor find value in their school work.
  • 75% of students feel they have an adult they can go to at school if they have a problem. Almost all of these students would go to a counselor (52%) or a teacher (42%) first. 
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means students strongly disagree with statements indicating they belong at the school, 5 means they strongly agree with those statements, and 3 is neutral, students report an average of 3.6 on questions about their belonging at school.

Stress & Health

  • The most common major sources of stress students experience are “Grades, tests, quizzes, finals, or other assessments” (85% of students) and “Overall workload and homework” (76%). Other sources reported by more than 55% of students are: “Lack of sleep,” “Procrastination or time management,” “A specific class or classes,” “Lack of PDF,” and “College and your future.” 
  • 75% of students report experiencing a stress related health symptom in the last month. Exhaustion, difficulty sleeping, and headaches are the most commonly reported symptoms. Female students (86%) report higher incidence of health symptoms than male students (66%). 
  • 45% of students are “quite” or “very” confident in their ability to cope with stress. 20% are “not at all” or “a little” confident. The remaining 35% are “somewhat” confident. 60% of students who are “quite” or “very” confident in this ability report a health symptom in the past month, while 92% of students who are “not at all” or “a little” confident report a health symptom.


  • Students report getting an average of 6.5 hours of sleep per night, and 11:00 PM is the most common weekday bedtime. 9th graders average 7.0 hours of sleep, while 12th graders average 6.0. Adolescent health and sleep experts recommend 9 hours of sleep per night for teenagers. 
  • 68% of students keep their phone in their bedroom at night, and 42% “always” use it as their alarm clock.

Academic Integrity

  • 55% of students report cheating in some way in the past month. The most common forms of cheating are working with others when expected to work alone (39% of students), copying someone else’s homework (24%), and paraphrasing or copying a few sentences of material from a written source without citing (22%).

Homework & Extracurriculars

  • Students do 3.4 hours of school-assigned homework per weeknight, on average, and 5.1 hours on the weekend. 51% of students report spending 5 hours or more on homework in one day at some point in the past week, and the average heaviest load is 4.6 hours. 
  • 66% of students feel they have too much homework, while 55% of students feel that more than half of their homework is useful. 77% report being “often” or “always” stressed by their schoolwork.
  • 80% of students multitask when working on their homework. The most common forms of multitasking are listening to music (61% of students) and eating a snack (51%).
  • 67% of students report doing non-school assigned homework (from other academic programs). These students report an average of 1.2 hours per weekday and 2.3 per weekend of this work.
  • Students report participating in an average of 10.1 hours of extracurriculars per week.
  • Of the students who participate in extracurriculars, the most common types of extracurriculars are school clubs, which enroll 65% of students, and school sports, played by 46% of students.

Parent Expectations

  • 56% of students believe they can “often” or “always” meet their parents’ expectations.
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 means students strongly disagree with statements indicating their parents have high expectations, 5 means they strongly agree with those statements, and 3 is neutral, students report an average of 3.2 on questions about their parents’ expectations.

Possible School Changes

  • The most effective ways to reduce stress and improve engagement and well-being, according to students, would be reducing homework load, coordinating due dates for projects and assessments, eliminating homework over weekends and breaks, and creating more time for students to work on homework or projects in school. Between 68% and 83% of students feel these would be “quite” or “very” effective changes.



    Challenge Success Program at TJHSST

    Discover how Challenge Success, a Stanford University affiliate, is helping TJHSST enhance student experiences and relieve stress.

    Challenge Success: Parent Survey Results

    This survey measures parents’ perceptions of their children’s experiences in areas such as academic stress, homework, sleep, technology use, and family rules and norms.