Giving Compass' Take:

• In this post, The Thomas B. Fordham Institute urges education reformers to listen to the voices of students when building policies and programs.

• In general, teens can be more receptive to learning than they are given credit for, and engagement is an area of growth to consider. Which efforts can help us better tap into the passion of young people?

• Here's why it matters that teens are reading less.

For years, empirical research has emphasized the importance of student engagement, yet the education research world spends little time focusing on young people’s perspectives. Last year, to amplify the voices of students, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute published What Teens Want from Their Schools, which commissioned a survey asking high schoolers about their classroom experience. Its results painted a broad portrait of student engagement, as well as how their view America’s education system.

To mark the beginning of the new school year, on September 14 we published the first in a series three blog posts examining those results. It explored how young people feel about different activities, from teacher lectures, to group projects, to student presentations. (The general answer? Not very enthusiastic, but it depends on individual teachers and classrooms.) This is the second in that series, and it looks at what students say about their own approaches and attitudes toward school.

Students aren’t passive receptacles of education “content,” no matter how exciting the lesson; their active inputs, like effort, persistence, and other positive habits, are just as vital to engagement and learning. As Michael Petrilli and one of us pointed out recently in Education Next, “When students work harder, they learn more.” Yet student effort is frequently, and mistakenly, overlooked by reformers, who treat it as an output — a natural result of better teachers and schools — rather than an input from students. In reality, it’s both, and a key piece of the engagement puzzle. So what are teenagers bringing to the table?

Read the full article about what we can learn from teens' approaches to school by Adam Tyner, Ph.D. and Emily Howell at The Thomas B. Fordham Institute.