Separation Anxiety

##AUTHORSPLIT##<---> The annual Speak Up survey returns, with some unsettling data revealing a disconnect between students and their educators.

Geoffrey H. FletcherTWENTY-THREE PERCENT. Twenty-three percent!

That is the number of students-- self-labeled "advanced tech"-- who answered yes to the following question on last year's Speak Up survey: Is your school doing a good job of preparing you for future jobs?

That is an amazingly and alarmingly low number. Even more alarming-- in relation to this and many other questions-- is how out of sync with those students are our school principals, district administrators, teachers, and parents. Witness the breakdown of the percentage of yes answers to the same question about job readiness received from each group: school principals, 66 percent; district administrators, 48 percent; teachers, 47 percent; parents, 43 percent.

There's even a 20-point margin between the students and the group whose viewpoint they are in closest accord with-- ironically, their parents.

This is but one chunk of stats available from Speak Up, an annual online survey coordinated by Project Tomorrow that collects, analyzes, and reports on the authentic, unfiltered voices of K-12 students, teachers, parents, and administrators. Take part in the 2008 survey at the Project Tomorrow website through Dec. 19.

Perhaps all of us in the educational technology community have at some point acknowledged a disparity between how students act in school and out of school, as well as a disconnect between the tools they use in school and out. A new concern of ours should be this enormous gap between how students assess their education and preparedness and how the adults around them feel about it. Do the kids perceive a real and serious problem, or are educators and parents more sensible and have a greater understanding of the big picture? And what to make of the nearly 20-point gap between principals and the other adults, not to mention the 40-plus-point gap between principals and students?

The hope of addressing this generational divide is one reason why T.H.E. Journal and the Education Group of 1105 Media, our publishing company, are delighted to announce the formation of a special partnership with Project Tomorrow. Starting with our January 2009 issue, Project Tomorrow will be providing data for the page of stats that closes out each issue of our magazine. Our thanks go out to Jeanne Hayes and Tom Greaves for drilling down the past two years to supply us with compelling data each month from their America's Digital Schools survey.

Look for facts and figures from the 2008 Speak Up survey in our publication and on our website. In the meantime, go take the survey.

-Geoffrey H. Fletcher, Editorial director

This article originally appeared in the 12/01/2008 issue of THE Journal.