STUDENT VOICE TEAM

Working to integrate students as partners to improve Kentucky schools.

The Prichard Committee Student Voice Team consists of approximately 100 self-selected students, elementary school though college, from across the Commonwealth who work together to integrate students as partners to improve Kentucky schools.

We use the tools of civic engagement to elevate the voices of young people in education research and policy-making. We conduct surveys and roundtables; we create and deliver workshops; we make speeches and presentations; we testify; we publish informed opinion pieces; we issue policy reports, create press events, harness social media (follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) and more!

Following are our four current major initiatives.

STUDENTS AS PARTNERS LISTENING TOUR

In 2016, after a year’s worth of research and an original survey of Kentucky’s principals and superintendents, the Student Voice Team released Students as Partners, a policy report detailing the state of student voice in existing school governance bodies.

The work continues to prompt inquiries from students, educators, and education advocates as we continue our statewide Listening Tour to disseminate our research and recommendations about integrating students into more meaningful school decision-making roles and nurture and track local success stories.

Student Director, Grassroots Initiatives: Zach Sippy

COLLEGE TRIPWIRES RESEARCH AND OUTREACH

Our 2015 College Tripwires investigation into hidden barriers that make the transition from high school to college so difficult for too many Kentucky students continues to drive a range of activities.  After delivering over 50 local and national presentations on this work, our team of student investigators is now embarking on the second phase of research, an undertaking that has us surveying and interviewing hundreds of Kentucky high school seniors and undergraduates to define college readiness from a student perspective, with a special focus on how the ACT fares as a predictor of college success.

In partnership with Gear Up Kentucky and to generate qualitative feedback, we designed a “Getting Real About Readiness” tour and brought it to school districts across the state.The work is part of a report and book we are publishing to document compelling student stories that bring policy data related to college readiness to life and ensures that policymakers better understand the lives of those their decisions most affect in real time.

Student Director, Postsecondary Outreach & Research: Sahar Mohammadzadeh

SCHOOL CLIMATE AUDITS

Research shows that student success in school, especially for those who feel marginalized there, can hinge on student engagement and a sense of agency and autonomy. Creating an awareness about whether and how students can develop more ownership around their learning environment is an important step toward incorporating this conversation into the culture of the broader education system.

In partnership with a student-founded tech firm that specializes in school survey work, we are putting the power of school climate data and analysis into the hands of students themselves.

Targeting a set of schools that represents the geographic and demographic diversity of the state, we are supporting students in a variety of Kentucky school districts to produce a study about just what students are experiencing related to school climate and culture with an emphasis beyond individual classrooms. We are hoping that our student-driven audits serve as a model for students in other schools to play a more meaningful role in school climate improvement.

Student Climate Project Leads: Lily Gardner, Madison Ortega, Chaze Vinci, Emmy Sippy

VOICES FROM THE FRONT: A STUDENT VOICE FORUM

The Student Voice Team’s digital forum offers a space for student thought and feedback on a range of education issues.  By employing a user-friendly blog format, reaching out to youth-serving organizations and individuals for submissions, and by promoting posts across multiple social media platforms, we seek to make the site especially accessible even to those who have never before written an article.

The primary role of the Student Voice Team’s Forum Editorial Board is to foster and moderate informed dialogue about the student experience and support young people to contribute to broader discussions about the way they are educated. We publish all material with the full disclosure that content is independent and does not represent the official opinion of either the Student Voice Team or the Prichard Committee.

Forum Editorial Board Editor-in-Chief: Laney Taylor

STUDENT VOICE TIMELINE

  • 2012
    Beginning in the fall of 2012, we spent a school year researching, debating, and testing ideas to make the case for student voice in the Prichard Committee. When we presented our arguments at the organization’s spring meeting, we received approval from the committee for launching our proposed pilot.
  • 2014
    During the 2014 budget session, we joined forces with other education advocacy groups and organized a campaign to share student stories about school funding shortfalls and ensure the legislature restored school investment to more adequate, pre-Recessionary levels.
  • 2015
    In 2015, we published our first Tripwires report, marrying facts about college transitions with student voices that brought the data to life. We have since presented that work over 50 times to education advocates and students across Kentucky and the country. We’re now working on a second report and book incorporating original research and even more student voice.
  • 2015
    In 2015, we wrote a bill to add students to superintendent screening committees. We wrote opinion pieces, met with legislators, testified, and organized a massive Stand With Students Rally on the Capitol steps. Though the bill ultimately wasn’t passed, we expanded the conversation around student voice in more meaningful school decision-making locally and nationally.
  • 2015
    We Completed Our First Student Voice Audit In 2015, Involving Student-Facilitated Roundtables, Surveys, And Analysis To Give Students And Staff A Better Understanding Of Their School’s Climate And What They Can Do To Make It Better. We’re Now Scaling This Work To Include More Schools In Districts Across The State.
  • 2016
    In 2016, we campaigned for the legislature to follow the original intent of the law and distribute lottery funds to need-based college scholarships. This work brought hundreds of people to the Capitol to hear directly from low-income youth struggling to afford college and resulted in $14 million in restored funds to assist an additional 8,000 students.
  • 2016
    In Our 2016 Report Students As Partners We Made The Definitive Case For Integrating Students In More Meaningful School Improvement Efforts. Since Then, We’ve Been Sharing Our Work With Students, Staff, And Parents In School Districts Across The State Which Has Led To Schools Implementing Models To Support More Students As Partners.