May 1, 2024

Students Speak: A 2024 Snapshot of Youth Well-Being in the District of Columbia

By Kristen Carroll | Libby Schwaner | Ebony Lambert | Priyanka Patel | Melissa Steel King

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Students’ well-being — including social and emotional wellness, relationships with peers and adults, and engagement in school — is an essential component of their success in school and beyond.  

Over the last two years, Bellwether has partnered with Education Forward DC and Youth Invest Partners to help schools in Washington, D.C. hear directly from students about their well-being through the Panorama Social Emotional Learning survey.  

In Students Speak: A 2024 Snapshot of Youth Well-Being in the District of Columbia, we analyze results from more than 30,000 students in 16 local educational agencies across D.C. that administered portions of the Panorama survey in fall 2023.   

Our analysis surfaced several key takeaways, including: 

  • Overall students of all ages reported that their teachers hold them to high expectations, and that they have supportive relationships with adults (including family members, teachers, and others) in their lives. 
  • The majority of students value school and say that it is important to do well in their classes. However, less than half of students said that what they learned in school was meaningful or useful in their daily lives. Older students responded less favorably on multiple measures of well-being compared with younger students. For example, the Sense of Belonging scale score was 70% in grades 3-5 compared to 48% in grades 6-12. The results revealed gender differences in students’ self-perceptions. For example, female students responded less favorably than their male peers on the Self-Efficacy scale. 
  • Native American, Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander, English Learner, and Hispanic students responded less favorably than their peers on items related to self-efficacy and rigorous expectations, with some differences by age. 

This report is part of a multi-year effort intended to aid educators, policymakers, and communities across D.C. in interpreting the survey results, tracking progress over time, and identifying strengths and areas for growth.  

You can find results from the first year of this work in a report we published in April 2023. 


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