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This Field Guide shares the voices of more than 22,000 student respondents across the NAF Network. It is essential that all stakeholders reflect on what young people take away from their academy experience. By elevating the voice of academy participants, and understanding their experiences at school, we all can do more to include them in our collective decision-making, growing practices that have a deeper impact. This Guide is a summary of the 2021-2022 annual student survey results and its purpose is to continue growth and improvement in your local academy community.

The unique challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools and educators to quickly adapt many aspects of their learning environment to equitably serve as many students as possible.

There are too many unique local challenges that schools have faced to list in this Student Survey Field Guide individually, but we advise all of our educators, policymakers, and staff to please take these programmatic disruptions into account when viewing the data and recommendations throughout this Student Survey Field Guide.

Theory of Change
NAF believes all students deserve to have learning experiences that are connected to their future and supported by relevant and meaningful work-based learning experiences with industry employers.

About Student Participants

Data Highlights About Student Participants

  • There were a total of 22,371 students who completed the student survey in the spring of 2022.

    • 250 of these students took the survey in Spanish (the first time the student survey has ever been offered in Spanish).

  • A total of 68% of NAF academies participated in the student survey, that is 418 of the 618 NAF academies throughout the network.

  • Each academy theme was represented in the overall results as students from all themes were represented. See below for a breakdown of the responses by theme.

    • AOE (11%)

    • AOF (31%)

    • AOHS (19%)

    • AOHT (14%)

    • AOIT (16%)

    • Other Pathways (9%)

  • Academies of all different quality levels were represented. Although, academies with a Model + Distinguished quality level were overrepresented in the results. See below for a breakdown of the responses by academy quality.

    • Model + Distinguished (57%)

    • Model (11%)

    • Certified (29%)

    • Member (2%)

    • No Level (less than 1% of responses)

    • Under Review (less than 1% of responses)

Culturally Responsive Practices

NAF strives to foster environments where the lived experiences and perspectives of students drive learning and are key to meaningful adult relationships. The culturally responsive practices section of the student survey asks about how the lived experiences of students are being reflected in their school environment.

The academy experience that had the biggest impact on me personally so far was the fact that my teacher truly cares about his students and only wishes the best for them. He tries his hardest to keep all students at the same level of understanding for any topic and deserves a reward for being such a good person. He makes learning fun and engaging.
Personally, my English class this year did a great job of helping me understand more mature and deep perspectives of the world, including perspectives of others.

Identity, Beliefs, and Mindset

NAF believes that when supported by small learning communities, a sense of safety, and healthy adult relationships, students' mindset can grow and support important contributions to their future work and life. The identity, beliefs, and mindset section of the student survey asks students to reflect on their own abilities and what others in their school environment think about student abilities.

I feel more confident in myself working alone and with others.
The workload, and how all of it connects to one another, has taught me to be responsible with doing my work

Attitudes Towards School and Self

A sense of success and motivation in schoolwork is a driver of positive "career launch", especially for students with high aspirations but also overwhelming socio-economic barriers. The attitudes towards school and self section of the student survey asks about students' feelings and perspective with regard to their own academic abilities, advanced coursework, and family experience with higher education.

My academy experience that had the biggest impact so far is getting me ready for AP courses that I could take next year.
The main part of my academy experience that has made the biggest impact on me personally so far would probably be the ability to find ways to solve problems.

Attitudes Towards Work-Based Learning

A pillar of the NAF Educational Design is that work-based learning can drive a sense of relevance for skills and motivation toward positive future pathways. The attitudes towards work-based learning section of the survey asks students about what type of work-based learning they engage in, how these opportunities were made available, and how the skills they learned are useful for their future goals.

When guest speakers came in to talk to us about careers. This had the biggest impact on me because personally I am struggling to pick my forever career but I have a few in mind, and the research and guest speakers are helping me cross out some off my list while putting others to the top.
Personally, getting exposed to mock interviews really opened my eyes to how the real world actually is. Before having a mock interview, I believed that when someone applied for a job they immediately got it. I was completely wrong, applying isn’t simply just submitting a form and getting accepted right away. It’s about showing who you are and what can you bring to the “table” as some would say.

Post-Graduation Plans

While the future of "college" is changing, data continues to tell us that postsecondary achievement supports the most direct pathway to successful careers, especially for first generation Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) students. Our post-graduation plans section of the student survey asks NAF seniors about their plans after high school.

Getting to participate in labs and understand how certain medical interventions are produced had a positive impact on me as I understand more about the type of work I would do if I choose to pursue a career in pharmaceutical medicine.
Biggest impact on my personally so far is visiting a nearby college. When we went on the college field trip it gave me an experience of how it feels being on a campus and going to classes. I know I want to go to college and I got an experience most students around the world can't have.

Social Capital

Professional connections and positive adult relationships are a key component that enable students to establish themselves with other professionals in their ideal career cluster. NAF strives to empower students to make these professional connections during high school so that entry into a career field is facilitated by other established industry professionals. The social capital section of the student survey asks students about their growing professional network.

(The biggest impact on me was) building connections and strengthening knowledge in the field I am interested in.
(The biggest impact on me was) the connections I've built with my partners and my teachers. As well as the kind of information I've learned that I can actually apply in the real world.


NAF strives for equitable pathways in which all students will be ready for life after high school, regardless of whether that path is to college or immediately into a career. The impact section of the student survey asks students whether they feel prepared to enter college and/or the workforce and what their general perceptions are for areas improvement in their own academy.

The biggest impact this academy has had on me is it teaches me how to manage my money. Out of all the different programs I think this topic is very important because a lot of schools don't teach you how to use your money when you go out into the real world.
The biggest impact the academy has had so far was that my academy experience helped motivate me to start and create an app that i'm currently developing. Before the NAF Academy, I was confused on where I wanted to go with my future, I was stuck between being in health care or finance but when I joined, the courses helped me realize that I can combine both of those passions to create something that I am proud of and happy with. All of my teachers were wonderful in helping and supporting me through the process and I wouldn't know where I would be without the academy


Throughout this Student Survey Field Guide, we've heard from students and seen the data on their NAF experiences and the 2021-2022 school year in general. There is much to celebrate, as data suggests upward movement in many areas, such as more back to in-person work-based learning, a high level of students indicating positive relationships with their teachers, and the agreement that courses and work-based learning are producing college- and career-ready skills.

Students' voice and their data also indicate that there is still work that needs to be done in order to empower students to get to where they want to go. Some areas for attention that were highlighted by students' voice include thinking about how to promote engagement and self-efficacy in the classroom, greater emphasis on reducing the racial gaps between 2- and 4-year college going, and raising awareness for work-based learning opportunities in the classroom. These provide themes and questions to think about as we continue to work with students to achieve their goals.

Some things to consider:

1) While the majority of students believe they are good students, how can we promote feelings of positive self-efficacy in the classroom, both for specific subjects and school at large?

2) How can we promote closing the racial gap between which students are attending 4-year vs. 2-year colleges?

3) How can we raise awareness and provide more opportunities for work-based learning experiences within academy programs?