Montgomery County students remain slightly less engaged than their peers across the nation, according to Gallup survey data the county school system released Friday.
The engagement level among Montgomery County Public Schools students changed only slightly from 2012 to 2013.
About 52 percent of the county student survey participants were engaged — or involved in and enthusiastic about school — compared to about 53 percent last year.
County students had an overall engagement rate of 3.99 — out of a possible 5 — compared to U.S. students who had an engagement rate of 4.04.
Last year, county students’ engagement level also was found to be slightly below the national level.
In the same 2013 survey, students also responded to questions related to their well-being, or how they experience their life, and hope for the future. They ranked about the same as the national average for hopefulness and slightly below the national average for well-being — also similar to 2012 findings.
The fall 2013 numbers mark the county school system’s second round of data from Gallup surveys given to students in the 5th through 12th grades and school system employees.
The Gallup student and employee surveys were first used in Montgomery in 2012. The system entered into a three-year contract with Gallup, for $300,000 each year.
Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, deputy superintendent of the office of school support and improvement, said the survey results will help individual schools recognize areas of strength and potential improvement.
“While the results are fairly similar [compared to 2012] this is new work for us,” Schiavino-Narvaez said.
More students and employees participated in the 2013 surveys compared to the previous year.
About 72,665 students and about 18,300 employees took the surveys in 2013, compared to about 69,889 students and about 17,050 employees in 2012.
The percentage of school system employees who were engaged in their work rose from 36 percent to 40 percent from 2012 to 2013.
Employees’ overall satisfaction rate stayed the same at 3.83, with 5 being the highest possible rate.
Schiavino-Narvaez said each school will pick one or two areas based on its results that they can work on.
In one example, she said schools could work to improve student and staff recognition for good work, which she described as a “low area” among the survey results.
The Gallup results serve as one factor among many that influence a school’s improvement plan, she said.
School board member Michael Durso (Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said he thinks the school system should be cautious as it draws any definitive conclusions from the data.
Durso said he thinks a student’s answers might be influenced by what they are experiencing at a particular time.
“I think it certainly paints a picture but I don’t know if it paints a complete picture,” he said.