To elevate the voices of those who teach, lead, and learn in our schools every day, NASSP recently released the results from a survey of school leaders and high school students. The nationally representative survey, designed by a group of NASSP and National Honor Society (NHS) members, explored their opinions on the challenges of leading a school, the student experience, mental health, school safety, and how to better meet the needs of all learners. 

“Principals in every state are facing enormous challenges resulting in significant stress with no end in sight,” says Ryan Merriwether, principal of North Junior High School in Evansville, IN, and a member of the survey design team. “The survey results make clear that while we love working with students and teachers, our conditions are unsustainable and if left unaddressed, could result in principal shortages that will be difficult to overcome.” 

The key findings from NASSP’s Survey of America’s School Leaders and High School Students, outlined on the following pages, highlight the serious obstacles students and school leaders face. But the data also confirm three important things: Students and school leaders want to be heard, they have compelling and innovative ideas to improve our schools, and we must listen to them.   

“As a student, it’s incredibly rare to be asked for my opinion, even when people are discussing what’s best for kids,” says Laila Dargan, a student at Willow Spring High School in Fuquay-Varina, NC, and a member of the survey design team. “There are a lot of similarities between what school leaders and students think and I hope this serves as a reminder for policymakers to talk to all of us who are actually in the schools.”

Ultimately, the survey findings uncover opportunities for us all to improve our schools (and our entire school system) and support our students and school leaders through one of the most difficult periods in the history of education.