On December 6th, SPARK hosted members of local community groups for a presentation of the preliminary results of the 2018 Youth Voices survey.   The survey tool was adapted from the 2014 tool based on extensive feedback from youth and community members.  This fall, more than 3,000 6th – 12th grade students from 11 Itasca-area public schools completed the survey.  The survey examined a wide range of students’ experiences and relationships in their families, schools, and communities.

While full reports will be published later in January (watch here for updates), Gene Roehlkepartian of the Search Institute shared highlights of three of the six reports that will be released.  These reports explored the developmental relationships of youth and the common threads for learning, connecting, action, and impact.

Theme #1  Young people benefit from a web of relationshipsWeb of relationships

This theme emerges from a focus on young people’s experiences in their communities broadly. It’s intended to

start a conversation about what it’s like for these young people to grow up in the Itasca area, what they experience in their communities, and how they think about their future here.

The survey asked young people about four different relationships: parenting adults, teachers, friends, and another they could select.  This chart shows the percentages who indicated that they have 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 relationships:

Theme #2: Strong relationships in schools contribute to learning

Teacher student relationshipsThis theme emerges when studying students’ relationships with teachers, their experiences in their schools, and their motivation to learn.

When asked about teacher-student relationships, youth reported that the following occurs often or very often:

When young people experience developmental relationships with important people in their lives, they are more likely to grow up successfully.

When students experience stronger relationships with their teachers and school staff, they are:

  • 2.5 times as likely to work hard to learn in school
  • 2.3 times as likely to be committed to and enjoy learning
  • 2.1 times as likely to set and work toward achievable goals
  • 2 times as likely to see a future for themselves.

Theme #3: Young people seek new opportunities to growOST participation

Developmental relationships beyond the school and family occur when young people participate in activities that interest them.  The SPARK survey asked young people what  activities they are already participating in and what activities might interest them.  Identifying the gaps can help providers develop programs that young people will enjoy.


SPARK expects to publish all the data by the end of January.  Contact us if you would like us to meet with your group to learn more.



Developmental relationships are close connections through which young people discover who they are, cultivate abilities to shape their own lives, and learn how to engage with and contribute to the world around them.  Learn more about the Search Institutes Developmental Relationships Framework here: