In the fall of 2019, Challenge Success, a Stanford University program that measures student well-being in high-achieving public and private schools, surveyed Commonwealth students to glean insight into their attitudes toward their classes, workload, and stress levels. The findings were striking.
Challenge Success told us that Commonwealth is different from every other school they have worked with, that our students care about understanding material more than they do about grades, that our community is unusually intentional, and that our advising program works. They said that our teachers “should keep doing whatever they are doing" in the classroom and that Commonwealth “is doing something right."
Something that I've noticed through doing all of the homework over almost four years now is that I've never had a problem set or a writing assignment that didn't intrigue me at least in some way. There is a lot of work but none of it is tedious. All of it is very interesting and encourages creative thinking.”
—Nathan Carmichael '18
Commonwealth students are engaged in their classes
More than 85% of Commonwealth students report being “purposefully” or “fully” engaged in their school work, compared to 61% of students at small and medium non-public schools, and 39% of all 30,000 students surveyed.
Students at Commonwealth feel supported
On a scale of 1-5 (between agree and strongly agree), responses averaged 4.6 when asked about their teachers' care and support, more than half a point higher than the mean for small and medium non-public schools. Eighty-five percent of our students said they have an adult they can go to at school, 10% above the mean for the comparison group.
Students find homework at Commonwealth meaningful
Ninety-one percent answered that all or more than 75% of their homework was useful, compared with 54% of students in the comparison group. Eighty-six percent of our kids said that none or only a few classes ever assigned busy work, while 87% said that the homework in many or all of their classes helped them learn the material, compared with 47% (for both questions) in small and medium non-public schools.
Students' levels of stress are below average
When asked, on a scale of 1 (never) to 5 (always), about how often homework makes them feel stressed, keeps them from getting enough sleep, or keeps them from spending time with family and friends, Commonwealth students averaged 3.3 or 3.5, between "sometimes" and "often." This number was below the average for the comparison group, which stood at 4.1 for stress, 4.0 for sleep ("often"), and 3.8 for interference with family/social/activity time.