AC Groups High Achieving Schools Survey Support AC

The High Achieving Schools Survey

Based in 30 years of peer-reviewed scientific research
Continually refined to include culture-specific items that are related to distress and substance use
Focuses on aspects of student life that can be modified to foster well-being
Assesses students’ positive personal attributes including empathy, altruism, and investment in the greater good

Benefits of HASS

Collects actionable data to allow Dr. Luthar and her team to
  • Identify and prioritize health and wellness strategies using the risk and protective factors within a school
  • Provide 2-3 specific recommendations to school leadership and stakeholders to implement change
  • Compare the school being assessed with other high achieving schools and national averages to quickly assess areas of strength and areas needing attention
Schools that use HASS are also prioritized if they choose to implement Authentic Connections Groups for counselors and administrators.

Data Collection and Results

What is measured?
Student levels of well-being
  • Depression, anxiety, rule-breaking  
  • Drug and alcohol use  
  • Disordered eating, self-harm
  • Altruism, and prosocial behavior
  • Empathy, integrity, and humility
  • Life satisfaction
  • Envy of peers
  • Perfectionistic self-presentation 
Modifiable aspects of school climate
  • School bullying
  • Respect for diversity
  • AP and IB courses
  • Academic support
  • Caring teachers and adults
  • Alienation from adults
  • Parent-school engagement
Modifiable aspects of parent-child relationships
  • Perceptions of parents’ tolerance of substance abuse
  • Emphasized parent values (importance of success vs. showing decency and integrity)
  • Felt closeness to each parent 

Results and Testimonials From School and Organizational Leaders

Students at High Achieving Schools often deal with several challenges, and are known to be statistically more likely than other youth to show emotional or behavioral difficulties such as depression, anxiety, or substance abuse (see Luthar & Kumar, in press). Subsequent assessments of schools have shown substantial decreases in students’ level of depression, anxiety, and substance use.
Genevieve Eason
Wilton Youth Council
"Dr. Luthar provided us with robust data on our local high school and identified key priorities for intervention in our community. Not only did she present us with a rigorous scientific perspective, but she addressed our community with passion, empathy and warmth. The balance of both her credibility as a researcher and her relatability as a parent enabled the audience to be receptive to her message.”
Bradley S. Philipson, Ph.D.
Former Assistant Head of School for Academics, Fort Worth Country Day School (TX)
Founding High School Principal, Young Audiences Charter School (LA)
"I cannot overstate how important Dr. Luthar's work has been to our work in independent schools. As a practicing educator, I am constantly citing her research to faculty, parents, and students as we walk about creating a school environment that promotes healthy, prosocial behavior. I am proud to have shared what I have learned working with her at several conferences, and am flattered to remain in her orbit as she continues to do incredibly important and much needed research in schools."

Defining Features of High Achieving Schools

High Achieving Schools (HAS) are those with high standardized test scores, rich extracurricular and academic offerings, and graduates heading to some of the most selective colleges. These schools emphasize the importance of community and relationships in fostering growth of the “whole child”, helping students grow intellectually, socially, and emotionally, while strengthening character and civic engagement.