The 2023 NAF Student Survey Field Guide is back again and shares the voice of more than 24,000 students from across the NAF Network that participated in our spring student survey. This tool is our way to offer you, our network of educators and stakeholders, a resource to reflect on what young people are saying about their academy experience. By elevating the voice of academy participants, and understanding their experiences at school, this allows us all to make better, data-driven decisions about how to improve our practice and have deeper impact on our students.

Results in this Field Guide are conveyed in terms of high-level trends, accompanied by recommendations and resources for NAF educators and academy stakeholders to consider that are based on feedback from NAF students. If you are a NAF educator and 10 or more students from your academy have taken the survey, be sure to check out results from your specific academy by checking out the "My Academies" buttons on the data tabs throughout the Field Guide, or clicking on the link provided in the summary section at the end of the Field Guide.

Responses Over Time

This new “Responses Over Time” section has never before appeared on any NAF Student Survey Field Guide. This is because 2023 constitutes the first time we are able to combine and display responses from NAF students who completed the student survey in all four years of their high school experience. By presenting these results for this same set of 353 NAF students, this section gives a richer picture of how attitudes and beliefs in the same students can change and grow as a result of their time in a NAF academy.

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About Student Participants

Data Highlights About Student Participants

  • There were a total of 24,713 students who completed the student survey in the spring of 2023.

    • This includes 500+ students that took the survey in Spanish.

  • A total of 69% of NAF academies participated in the student survey, that is 415 of the 604 NAF academies throughout the country.

  • Students from each academy theme were represented in the overall results. See below for a breakdown of the responses by theme.

    • AOE (11% of responders vs 15% of the network)

    • AOF (30% of responders vs 29% of the network)

    • AOHS (17% of responders vs 15% of the network)

    • AOHT (13% of responders vs 13% of the network)

    • AOIT (15% of responders vs 18% of the network)

    • Other Pathways (13% of responders vs 11% of the network)

  • Students from academies of all different quality levels were represented, however, 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 (64%)

    • Model (7%)

    • Certified (26%)

    • Member (2%)

    • No Level (less than 1% of responses)

    • Under Review (1%)

  • Note: While a number of students who identified as gender non-binary or whose gender was unknown did participate in the student survey, their data constituted less than 1% of total responses and will not be reported throughout this Field Guide to protect their anonymity.

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 part of the academy that I have experienced and has had the biggest impact on me personally would have to be getting to know everyone and how to communicate with different people.
An experience that's had the biggest impact on me personally so far was meeting new people, I think it has really helped me to improve not only as a student but as a person. I've grown to have many connections and experiences through everyone I've met.

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.

So far the biggest impact the academies have had on me personally is encouraging me to volunteer. Without NAF I probably wouldn't be that focused on getting a job or volunteering.
(My NAF experience) taught me how to improve in my future and that giving up is not an option.

Attitudes Towards School and Self

Doing Dual Enrollment has helped me because it gave me a glimpse of what college will look like when I get there.
Designing Rockets had the biggest impact on me since I never knew I could create that thing in person. I quickly realized that anything is possible as long as I shoot for the goal.

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.

El poder trabajar con robots y poder hacer un internado en verano. (Being able to work with robots and being able to do an internship in the summer)
Having the career fair (CTE day) at our high school had a significant impact on me so far. Although the fair was open to all students, the NAF students in particular dressed for success and gave their resumes to the organizations and potential work-providers that we felt were most intriguing to us and most beneficial to our aspirations.

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.

A field trip to our local hospital impacted me the most. Taking a field trip to the hospital helped me feel engaged, and a part of the staff; walking around the patient and operating areas. This field trip helped solidify my decision to work in the medical field.
I believe the support I've received from my NAF teacher has had the biggest impact. I was introduced to a college-like environment and adapted skills I will definitely need in the future.

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 part of my academy experience that had the biggest impact on me personally was the professional connections.
Engaging in mentor meetings and having the opportunity to speak with accomplished people has had a very positive impact on me.


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.

I have gotten the chance to meet tons of people who have found love in their careers and they have helped me know what that industry would be like.
It (my NAF experience) has given and is continuing to give me the skills to be ready for the future. I have learned skills to be work-ready and career-ready.


This Student Survey Field Guide brings student voice front and center and provides an easy way to reflect on what students are saying about their 2022-2023 experiences. There is much to celebrate as we reflect on what students are saying and take into context national data on students throughout the country. Some highlights include NAF seniors' immediate plans for post-secondary education (90%) compared to the national average college-going rate of 62%. Additionally, work-based learning experiences continue to be an engaging way to connect classroom learning to real-world outcomes, as the majority of NAF students that participated said work-based learning helped them explore career aspirations (71%) and build career skills (78%).

As with any continuous effort working with young people, the data indicate there is still work that needs to be done. Some areas for attention that were highlighted by student voice include thinking about how to be intentional about plugging students into networks of professionals that they can turn to for career and college advice, raising awareness for work-based learning opportunities, and keeping academic work interesting and fresh for students to stay engaged. These provide themes and questions to think about as we continue to work with students to achieve their goals.

Some things to consider:

1) If 10 or more students from your academy/academies completed the 2023 student survey, check out their data here and see if the resources in this Field Guide would be beneficial.

2) Broadly speaking, students continue to struggle to stay engaged in the classroom. However, work-based learning and other activities that provide real-world payoff in terms of skills learned and connections made continue to defy this trend. How can we better leverage these two competing insights for increased learning?

3) With roughly one in every five NAF students having no extended family with a college degree, how can we leverage college readiness activities inside and outside the classroom to potentially include parents and other guardians in the process?

4) What can we do to be intentional about connecting our students to individuals doing the type of work they are interested in as a career? How can we make these connections not just with adults, but also near-peers (peers similar in age)?