Seeing Opportunity with the Minnesota Student Survey


Report • March 2023 • By Lars Esdal, Addie Welch, Sara Kemper, and Laura Potter

Student surveys are critical to student-centered learning. They help paint a holistic picture of student experiences—and inform school improvement in areas like engagement, climate, and culture.

Minnesota has given a statewide youth survey since 1989. While it’s provided some key insights over the years, it would be even more valuable if it was more relevant to and used by those who work with youth each day—educators, families, and students themselves.

In this paper, we report on conversations with dozens of survey “users” in Minnesota, a 50-state analysis of student surveys around the country, and present recommendations.

In short, our core recommendation is to shift the central purpose of Minnesota’s student survey to improving learning and schools.

This shifted central purpose is most likely to directly benefit youth. Practically speaking it’s also the purpose that most naturally leads to meeting all other purposes—by maintaining the participation rates and political support that will be necessary for the survey’s survival.