Focusing in on Student Engagement and Hope

tCareer readiness preparation begins long before a student makes it to college and begins pursuing internships to explore strengths and interests. It even begins before high school, when students are making postsecondary decisions.

Career readiness largely hinges on success students experience when they are much younger – even back to fifth grade!

The Gallup Student Poll (Fall 2015) measures four dimensions of student success – engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspiration and career/financial literacy – and analyzes how those impact student behavior. The poll is administered to U.S. students, grades 5 – 12.

For example, students who are “engaged” and “hopeful” are 4.6 times more likely to say they do well in school than “actively disengaged” and “discouraged” students.

The aim of the Gallup Student Poll is to enable superintendents, principals and educators to take direct action based on the results to provide a more robust educational experience. This early action is critical in preparing students for college and the workforce.

One of the most interesting pieces of data from the poll relates to entrepreneurial aspirations. A staggering 42% of respondents indicate they plan to start their own business. However, these aspirations dwindle as students get older, especially for females, indicating that entrepreneurial aspirations should be identified and supported in middle school.

Of the respondents, 50% were “engaged,” 29% were not engaged and 21% were actively disengaged, meaning they are totally disconnected from the learning environment.

The data finds that engagement is different across the age groups. As you go up by grade, engagement goes down. For example, 75% of fifth graders are engaged at school, while 33% of 10th graders are engaged at school.

This suggests students are not getting the needed mentorship as they go through school and are not receiving praise and recognition.

  • 48% of students are hopeful
  • 34% of students are stuck
  • 18% of students are discouraged

When students know what they do best and have opportunities to develop their strengths, they are more motivated and enthusiastic about learning and are more likely to be engaged at school. High engagement in primary and secondary school, especially a focus on “hope” (defined as ideas and energy students have for the future), can only improve postsecondary and career outcomes.

Job Hopping on the Upswing

37193874Job hopping is increasing among employees seeking opportunities to expand their knowledge, develop their talents, increase their network and boost their salary.

Currently, half of U.S. employees are watching the job market or actively looking for a job, based on findings from a recent Gallup Workforce Panel study. This is a major problem for employers, as workers job hopping from one organization to the next can create considerable costs.

To learn more about what drives job-hopping, Gallup asked U.S. workers who were considering a job change or who had recently switched employers to indicate how important particular factors were when deciding to take a job with a different company. The top-ranked reason was “it allows me to do what I do best,” followed by “it significantly increases my income.”

What can you do to keep your employees loyal? First, don’t take your long-term employees for granted. Gallup’s findings reveal that longer-term employees do not feel as supported as employees who are new to a company. Find ways to create learning opportunities and provide feedback to retain and engage top-level employees throughout their time at the organization. In regard to newer employees, help them understand the fundamentals of their role immediately and look for ways to help them apply their strengths early in their careers.

Poll: We’re Striving to Thrive But Falling Short

Gallup is certainly one of the kings when it comes to the polling world. Its latest effort, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, seems to require a bit more interpretation than most.

Respondents were asked to rate their lives today and their expectations for their lives in five years. The answers lead to classifications of ‘thriving," "struggling" or "suffering." Indiana finds itself on the bottom 10 list of states with the lowest percentage of residents thriving.

Biggest improvement from 2011 to 2012: South Dakota, third overall; biggest drop over the last year: Alaska. In somewhat of a contrast, South Dakota was also among the four states (with Wyoming, West Virginia and Vermont) that are "least optimistic" about five years from now compared to today. In the "most optimistic" category for five years hence, honors go to Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Florida, Ohio (breaking the Southern monopoly) and Hawaii.

Top 10 "thrivers" in 2012: Hawaii, Utah, South Dakota, Maryland, Texas, New Hampshire, Nebraska, New Mexico, Colorado and Minnesota. The bottom 10: West Virginia, Maine, Delaware, Nevada, Oregon, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana and Florida.

What does it mean? In Gallup’s words:

Gallup’s research has shown that people take a variety of factors into account when rating their lives. While this thriving measure doesn’t always align perfectly with macro-level trends on economic indicators such as economic confidence and job creation, it is known to correlate with personal factors in one’s own life including career, social, physical, financial, and community wellbeing. To that end, the states that do best overall in "thriving" are similar to those best positioned for future livability based on a variety of factors encompassing economic, workplace, community, and personal choices. As such, it remains clear that a broad-based approach will likely fare best in terms of improving how residents rate their lives and their level of optimism for the future.


An Awakening of Education Attitudes

What makes a good survey? Sure, there’s the wording of the questions, the quality of the pool of respondents and a host of other factors. One I like is the longevity of the poll. In this case, it’s 41 years for the PDK (Phi Delta Kappa International)/Gallup Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools.

Here are some of the key results:

The findings indicate that Americans continue to support annual testing of students in grades three through eight by a two-to-one margin, and they favor using a single national test rather than letting each state use its own. This opinion is held by Democrats and Republicans equally.

Two out of three Americans support charter schools, although many Americans are confused about whether charter schools are public schools and whether they can charge tuition, teach religion, or select their own students. During the last five years, Americans’ approval of charter schools has increased by 15 percent.

The 2009 poll also reveals that almost three out of four Americans favor merit pay for teachers regardless of political affiliation. Student academic achievement, administrator evaluations, and advanced degrees are the three most favored criteria for awarding merit pay.  

NCLB Fatigue? Americans are also growing weary of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). In fact, support for NCLB, which was passed in 2002, continues to decline as almost half of Americans view it unfavorably and only one in four Americans believe that it has helped schools in their communities. 

Split Views on Teacher Tenure. American views are split on teacher tenure depending on how the question is phrased. They disapprove of teachers having a “lifetime contract” but agree that teachers should have a formal legal review before being terminated.

Dropout Rate of Top Importance. Almost nine out of 10 Americans believe that the U.S. high school dropout rate is either the most important or one of the most important problems facing high schools today. Offering more interesting classes was the suggestion offered most when asked what could help reduce the dropout rate. 

PDK says the results are an endorsement of President Obama’s education agenda. I say it’s about time and let’s hope state and federal officials can build on the momentum and create some meaningful change to benefit all students.

Inside the Uninsured Numbers

What do we know about the health care uninsureds in our country? That there are somewhere around 46 million people in this category, the national total is slightly over 16% and Indiana’s percentage is nearly the same.

Gallup, the polling people, have some more numbers. Their recent surveys tell us there are more uninsured in Texas, New Mexico and Mississippi (between 24% and 27% in each state) and the lowest totals are in Massachusetts (5.5% with its "universal" coverage), and Vermont, Minnesota and Hawaii (all in the 8.5% range). The Gallup results also show regional trends — lower numbers of uninsured in the Northeast and higher figures in the South and West. They link varying amounts of Hispanic populations as one of the reasons for the difference.

But there are more numbers that should not be forgotten: 45% of the uninsured are in that status for less than four months and only 16% are uninsured for more than 18 months. According to the Heritage Foundation, 20 million are in households with incomes more than twice the poverty level, approximately nine million are on Medicaid and nearly as many are illegal immigrants. The problem, experts say, is the lack of portability in insurance (those who change jobs often go in and out of the uninsured count). Policy changes regarding tax treatment and portability would be a huge first step in the right direction.

The point: Yes, the many Americans without insurance is a problem and part of the health care reform debate, but take a closer look at the numbers before forming your opinion on what needs to take place. 

Cheer Up, Indiana: Hoosiers Rank Low in Well-Being Poll

Gallup just released a poll ranking the well-being of America’s 50 states (see criteria below). Good news for those in Utah, who ranked number one, but the news was a little more stark for Hoosiers, as we ranked 45th. On the upside, there are five states even more disgruntled than we are.

Like many reading this, I’m quite interested in public policy, so I looked to see if states with any particular political leanings tended to rank higher than others. Perhaps I could adopt that ideology and become a less angry person, as I’d imagine that to be much cheaper than therapy. But alas, that proved fruitless as I noticed Utah, which is quite conservative, was No. 1; Hawaii, which skews liberal, was No. 2; and Colorado, which was recently labelled as the 2nd most libertarian state in another poll I saw, was No. 4. (Gees, don’t you hate when you actually have to think about things and not just rest on partisan dogmas.)

At any rate, here’s some info from Gallup:

Mapping well-being scores across the country, a clear pattern emerges with higher well-being states located primarily in the West and lower well-being states clustered in the Midwest and the South. Standing out among its high-ranking western counterparts is Nevada, with a slightly below average well-being score and a rank of 38th. Also defying the overarching geographic pattern of well-being are Maryland and Massachusetts, the only two states in the Northeast to rank in the top 10…

Results are based on telephone interviews with more than 350,000 national adults, aged 18 and older, conducted in 2008 as part of Gallup Poll Daily tracking. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1 percentage point.

Here is the Indiana breakdown for each criteria they used (rank is out of 50 states, with 1 being the best):

  • Well-being: 45
  • Life evaluation: 42
  • Work quality: 45
  • Basic access (to necessities): 29
  • Healthy behavior: 48
  • Physical health: 35
  • Emotional health: 43

Also, this site can tell you how happy your Congressional district is. 

While there is much to be done, the good news is: Indiana has picked up momentum and a national reputation as one of the most business-friendly states in the country, and some economists have claimed Indiana, and its citizens, could be some of the first to emerge once the recession ends.

Numbers That Matter in Indiana Right Now

As we approach the last Election Day on November 4, here is a list of key numbers and percentages that have greatly influenced this election.

  • 91% – Percentage of the national population that rates the economic conditions as “only fair" or “poor,” according to Gallup
  • 40% – Key percentage to look for in Indiana is if Obama can win 40% or more of the white vote. If Obama goes north of this number, he likely wins Indiana
  • I 30-49 – Independent 30-49 year old middle age voters are critical in deciding who will win Indiana’s eleven electoral votes
  • 26 – MINIMUM number of new legislators that will show up for the 2009 Indiana General Assembly. This number is likely to go up following the defeat of incumbents
  • 76 – Number of IBRG Endorsed legislative candidates in 2008
  • 1 – Number of truly competitive Senate races on IBRG’s radar screen
  • 8 – Number of competitive House races IBRG is playing in today
  • 13 – House races that are either lean or toss-up
  • +2 R / +3 D – This is the likely range for party change in the Indiana House
  • 345,582 – Newly registered voters in 2008 alone (8.4% of voters)
  • 525,264 – Newly registered voters since 2006 General Election. That means that 12.7% of voters are newly registered since 2006. This is a huge NEW voting block that did not exist two years ago.
  • 455,035 – Absentee ballots cast as of last night. This is already 11% of total registered voters (4,135,301 active voters).

Finally, the last number that may matter most to all of us – 4; there are only four days left to vote.

Georgia Feeling Ripped by Rippers

The U.S. Chamber’s blog had an interesting post today about the problematic nature of counterfeiting and piracy and their impact on legitimate economies. Namely, it seems Georgia is especially plagued by these problems. (Is that why they call it Hot-lanta?):

The U.S. Chamber has sponsored a Gallup study which took a look at the impact of counterfeiting and piracy in Atlanta. The survey found that nearly 1 in 5 consumers have purchased an illicit product in the past year; 41 percent in the 18-24 age group have purchased an illicit product in that period; more than 80 percent say the ability to easily obtain them influenced their purchase decision; and a majority greatly underestimate the economic impact of these crimes. Despite the high incidence of these crimes, a vast majority of respondents favor tougher laws and penalties against these crimes.

The prevalence of counterfeiting and piracy in Atlanta should alarm consumers, the business community, and governments alike. Where these crimes exist, consumer health and safety, workers’ jobs, companies’ reputations, and government revenues are at stake. 

Regarding the 1 in 5 consumers part, that’s not surprising. In fact, consider me guilty as charged. But the only reason I purchased that bootlegged street copy of "You Don’t Mess with the Zohan" was that I simply could not wait until its official DVD release. What’s a guy to do?