STUDENT VOICE IN EDUCATION REFORM There are school systems where students are being engaged as leaders in education reform. Following are examples and resources highlighting specific efforts where educators have worked with students to improve schools through education reform programs. Examples | Tools | Info about Ed Reform


Meaningful Student Involvement Def: Engaging students as partners in educational planning, research, teaching, evaluating, decision-making, advocacy, and more.

There are three criteria for being included on this list:

  1. Student-Inclusive Leadership - The activities are driven, led, or guided by students.

  2. Education System-Focused - The activities are led by or equally partnered with district or state education agencies.

  3. Sustained Activity - The action does not stop after a single event or process.

EXAMPLES of Student Voice in Education Reform



Portland Superintendent's Student Advisory Council Student Body Presidents and/or their representatives from every High School and Middle School program are invited. Several SuperSAC members have been integral members of the Strategic Planning Core team and other committees. A student representative to the Portland School Board is chosen every year.


Oregon State Superintendent's Youth Advisory Team Superintendent Susan Castillos Youth Advisory Team (YAT), is made up of a diverse group of Oregon students who combine their experiences in the public school system with information relating to significant educational issues and inform the Superintendent of student views and concerns.


San Francisco Superintendent's Student Advisory Council A citywide, youth-led organization that is committed to providing a voice for the students of the San Francisco Unified School District by representing and presenting the interests of the students to the administrative and policy-making bodies of the San Francisco Unified School District.


Washington Student Engagement Plan Several programs in Washington State designed to engage students in education reform statewide.


The NOVA Project Nova is a small alternative high school in the Seattle Public School District, created in 1970 by students and teachers. Nova is an alternative school whose mission is to be a democratically governed learning community of broadly educated, diverse, creative and independent thinkers who work collaboratively and demonstrate a high degree of individual and social responsibility.


BASE The Bay Area School of Enterprise is a youth-created public charter high school that engages students as intelligent and committed citizens who want to see change in their world and are assertive about achieving those changes.


Student 2 Student is a student-driven program in Washington State where students teach other students about education reform.


Oakland Unified School District engages students as education activists working with district staff to improve the school system.


Students as Allies in Improving Their Schools A nationwide program of What Kids Can Do that focused on partnering students with adults to change school climates, improve academic performance, and more. Website includes examples, tools, and more.


Boston Student Advisory Council A citywide body of student leaders in Boston, Massachusetts, representing their respective high schools as the voice of students to the Boston School Committee. Student participants offer their perspectives on high school renewal efforts and inform their respective schools about relevant citywide school issues. A program administered by the Office of High School Renewal in partnership with Youth on Board.


Students Speak: How Kentucky Middle and High School Students View School PDF file download. (Kentucky) A report on focus groups conducted in 1997 for the Partnership for Kentucky Schools.


West Virginia Students Speak Out About the Achievement Gap PDF file download. (West Virginia) A student-led research project exploring why student voices are important to education reform conducted by the Education Alliance, West Virginia's statewide public education fund.



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TOOLS about Student Voice in Education Reform


Regional Education Labs & Student Voice SoundOut compilation of different government-funded educational research organizations' work on student voice and involvement. 


Students Speak Toolkit This toolkit was developed for a Kentucky State Education Department program that worked with several schools. The toolkit guides educators, school board members, parents and others in planning and carrying out strategies for listening to students in order to improve their school experiences, including academic performance, school climate, and school safety.


School Excellence in Boston High Schools Students from seven district high schools and one pilot high school who were trained to gather information that would increase the voice of Boston Public Schools students. In March 2003, 1,538 students at 12 district high schools and one pilot high school participated in the student survey. Data collected and analyzed made clear that all high schools have aspects of school climate that are in need of improvement. On June 4, 2003, students made a presentation of their general findings to the superintendent and individuals from the broader school community. This report represents the culmination of their year-long efforts and hard work.


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TOOLS about Education Reform


No Child Left Behind NCLB is federal government legislation that governs funds for all schools in the US.


How NCLB Fails Information compiled by students about how NCLB doesn't work and what students can do about it.


Why Should I Care About Education Reform? [PDF] An informational handout for students written by the Washington State education agency.


Free resources on Education from the US government Publications, programs, curricula, and other tools from 30+ federal government agencies.


Edutopia Stories of innovative teaching and learning, and an online community of people actively working to reinvent schools. Edutopia is laying out a vision for what education reform could be for everyone.


Council of Chief State School Officers Your state government official in charge of schools belongs to this group.


Links to State Education Agencies Learn about the government agency in your state that is responsible for administering all educational programs, as well as testing, funding, and monitoring school performance.


United States Department of Education (DOE) The president appoints the Secretary of Education, who operates this Federal government agency that distributes money and monitors states, districts, local schools, teachers, private schools, and businesses that use that money to operate schools.


United States Federal Government "Gateway for Students" The federal agency responsible for schools created this website to teach students about education.












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