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Survey reveals critical student opinion of SM

By: Jenna Clark

In January, students participated in the Youth Truth Student Survey, allowing them to report their opinions on the academic and social aspects of San Marin compared to ratings from students at 443 other high schools across the country. Students ranked San Marin in the first percentile, the lowest score possible, for academic rigor and college and career readiness and the second percentile for student engagement. The highest ranking category was in relationships with peers, at the 55th percentile. Students also reflected on relationships with teachers and school culture. The response rate for the survey was 89 percent.
Principal Mark Sims said he was not happy to see any of the results. He attributed some of the results to the difficult year students faced due to the loss of teacher and athletic director Craig Pitti and senior Ben DeFilippis.
“A lot of things I hoped to accomplish had to be shelved,” Sims said, “because there was no way all of the folks here could have moved forward, because I think emotionally our students and staff would have been put in a very difficult position to handle the additional stressors that making change requires. Changing behaviors -adult behaviors- is the hardest thing we have to do, and you have to have the right opportunity to make that change.”
In the survey, students of color ranked San Marin higher in academic rigor, student engagement and college and career readiness than white or multi-racial students. However, black or African-American; Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin; and Asian students ranked San Marin lower in relationships with teachers and relationships with peers.
“I feel like teachers don’t go out of their way to make a relationship with students unless they see that a student is welcoming enough to allow them to do that,” senior Citlalli Gonzalez said. “I think regular classes have a bunch of space to improve regarding rigor, but it also depends on how motivated the student is in that class. Students in AP classes are more motivated, so more open to challenges.”
Thirty-six percent of students said the work they do in their classes really makes them think, putting San Marin in the first percentile for that question on the survey. Fifty-nine percent of students said they can tell their teachers understand the subjects their teaching, and 42 percent of students said their teachers give them assignments that help them better understand the subject.
“For a class to be rigorous at San Marin, it really depends on if it’s an AP class or not,” senior Gillian Rogers said. “I feel like I have only really been challenged in my AP classes rather than any regular class, and I’m a student who likes to be challenged. I don’t think I would feel as prepared for college if I didn’t load my years with AP’s. I am somewhat nervous about going to college and realizing I’m not prepared.”
Students ranked San Marin in the 17th percentile for relationships with teachers and 36th percentile for school culture, the last of the six categories included in the survey.

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