Where Do We Go Next? presents findings from a national survey focused on understanding the experiences, assets, and conditions that have shaped young people's high school experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Where Do We Go Next? aims to characterize young people's school-based experiences (in-person or remote) over the past year to inform youth-centered policy, practice, and recovery efforts moving forward.
America's Promise Alliance partnered with Research for Action (RFA) to conduct a national survey (n=2,439) of young people as part of its GradNation campaign. The survey was designed to assess young people's experiences during an unprecedented school year that was shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic and a swelling movement for racial justice. Specifically, the present study sought to take a holistic approach to better understanding young people's high school experiences over the past year, all amidst an uncertain economic, social, and educational landscape. This study, thus, serves two related purposes. First, it adds to a growing knowledge base on high schoolers' learning experiences over the past year. And second, it explores a diverse set of young people's schoolbased and out-of-school experiences in an effort to better understand how the past year has impacted learning and development, specifically students' overall wellbeing, access to opportunities to learn about — and act upon — social issues like race and racism, and postsecondary readiness for life after high school.
Survey respondents included young people ages 13-19 years who were enrolled in high school in the United States during the 2020-2021 school year. The survey was administered over a six-week period in March and April 2021 using a multi-pronged sampling strategy that included an online panel, targeted recruitment through supporting organizations, and youth-oriented social media advertisements. A non-probability quota sampling strategy was used to approximate the U.S. population distributions of high school students along dimensions of education level, gender, ethnicity, and race. Parameter estimates were referenced according to the most recently available national education statistics published by the National Center for Educational Statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau, and the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights. The resulting 2,439 survey responses were weighted by grade-level, race, ethnicity, and gender to account for differences between the study sample and the overall national population.