The 20 most-read articles for high school students

The 20 most-read articles for high school students

When compared with their younger counterparts in elementary and middle school, high school students show a markedly higher interest in exploring difficult issues in the news. 

We can see that journey to form opinions—and a new sense of awareness—taking shape in high school students’ most-read articles in Newsela. Students are drawn to pieces that explore challenging current events, from gun control to athletes protesting the national anthem.

Article HeadersUnique User Views
Why songs get stuck in our heads 196,528
PRO/CON: A self-driving future? 114,332
PRO/CON: Anthem protests 112,323
Gaming is good; kids say yesss! 110,040
PRO/CON: gun control 103,473
Terror attacks in Paris 102,138
William Shakespeare 91,936
Social networking 83,718
Emojis play key communication role 83,043
Sleepy teens and the school clock 77,358
Clinton and Trump debate 77,347
Digging into fake news 70,962
I Have a Dream 70,787
Player's gesture enrages 49ers fans 69,803
Wave of NFL player protests 67,229
PRO/CON: Self-driving cars for all? 66,595
Coaches watching online behavior 66,160
Video game violence 65,618
"Fortnite" shoots up gaming charts 64,490
Donald Trump is elected president 64,406

Of the 20 most popular articles, three focus on NFL players protesting the national anthem, three explore examples of violence and guns in society, and three revolve around the happenings of the 2016 presidential election. Where elementary and middle school students’ lists included lighter titles like “There really is a great pumpkin” and “Drake and friends play ‘Fortnite,’” these kinds of playful pieces are absent from the high school list, replaced by titles like “Terror attacks in Paris” and “Digging into fake news.”

High school students continue a trend that emerged with middle school readers, displaying a strong interest in “PRO/CON” pieces that present alternate sides of an issue. Three of high schoolers’ top five articles are PRO/CON pieces, showcasing the debate around self-driving cars, the NFL anthem protests, and gun control. 

Social media itself is also a key theme in several top articles. The appearance of titles that reference social networking, the use of emojis in communication, and coaches who watch students’ online behavior all point to student interest in how social media is shaping their interactions. Articles on gaming also show up on the list, though with less frequency—and greater complexity—than for younger students (“Video game violence” vs. “‘Fornite’ moves enter real world”). 

The fact that high school students engage with challenging national and social issues on Newsela is encouraging, especially in light of the overall decrease in high school reading.

It’s no secret that there’s more content than ever fighting for students’ attention, or that it’s harder than ever to assess its legitimacy. But by exploring more complex issues and arguments, high school students are taking their first steps to becoming active, informed citizens both in and outside school.

We’ll be releasing insights from Newsela’s dataset on a weekly basis. Interested in getting content insights about your school or district? Get in touch on Facebook or Twitter.

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