Schools Do Not Engage

and Inspire All Students

2009 High School Survey of Student Engagement, two out of three respondents (66%) said they are bored at least every day in class in high school; nearly half of the students (49%) claimed to be bored every day; and approximately one out of every six students (17%) described themselves as bored in every class.  Only 2% report never being bored, and 4% report being bored “once or twice”

 In exploring reasons for boredom, 33% of the respondents said they were bored because the “work wasn’t challenging enough.”  4 out of 5 students noted as a reason for their boredom that “material wasn’t interesting.”  Two out of five students claimed that the lack of relevance of the material caused their boredom.  (Yazzie – Mintz, E, 2010.) 

These statistics help explain why almost half of the national Black student population and 40% of Latinos attend high schools where 60% or fewer of freshmen are promoted to their senior year on time (Balfanz & Legters, 2004). National

studies also suggest that students who attend schools with large percentages of poverty and minority enrollment witness more of their peers dropping out and are at a greater risk of dropping out themselves than are students in predominately white and integrated high schools. Regrettably, Connecticut is not immune to the unsettling minority dropout problem. In 2006, 86% of White students graduated on time when compared to only 69% of African-American and 60% of Latino students[1].  In 2008, the Latino student dropout rate of 4.8% was twice the state average. Academic disengagement is costly to the state. Research suggests the dropouts from the class of 2008  could cost the state over $2.6 billion in lost wages over their lifetimes.[2]

 Students report dropping out because they feel disconnected from the school environment, because school instruction is dull, or because their school lacks the capacity to address their learning needs.[3] Student academic disengagement stems from a host of social and economic issues, but is largely due to limited instructional leadership in schools. Disproportionate percentage of ELL, minority, and low-income students are dropping out in Connecticut because the state has not yet allocated educational resources to meet the growing demands of a diverse set of learner needs.

 Disparities in student engagement across racial groups suggest that current teaching practices do not meet the needs of Connecticut’s growing population of more and more diverse learners. Students from racial minority groups now represent nearly 36% of the Connecticut school population, but this same level of diversity is not reflected among teachers and administrators. According to 2008-09 report a vast majority of teachers, 92%, are white.[4] National research suggests diverse students are not engaged by current pedagogical practices because these practices are not culturally relevant and do not embed materials that help students affirm their cultural identity. Current teaching practices geared towards preparing students for criterion referenced assessments do not empower students by giving them the 21st century tools to become reflective, critical agents in their learning.[5] Many teachers in the state have not had an opportunity to develop skills throughprofessional development to utilize instructional strategies for a culturally diverse school community.


 Yazzie-Mintz et al, Charting the Path from Engagement to Achievement:  A Report in the 2009 High School Survey of Student Engagement, Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Bloomington, IN, 2010.





2Connecticut Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (2010). Dropouts to Diplomas: Closing the Attainment Gap in Connecticut High Schools.


4Alliance for Excellent Education (July 2009). Understanding High School Graduation Rates in Connecticut.

5Bridgeland, J.M., DiIulio, J.J., and Morison, K.B. (2006). The Silent Epidemic: Perspectives of High School Dropouts (Retrieved October 6, 2010).

6Connecticut State Department of Education. Condition of Connecticut Education 2008-09

7Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Towards a Theory of Culturally Relevant Pedagogy. American Educational Research Journal, 32 (3), 465-491.


Identifying the Problem