Tools for Using Student Perspectives for School Improvement

Listening closely to what students say about their school experiences can be beneficial to educators for understanding and addressing school-related topics and problems and for rethinking policies and practices. 

A new toolkit from REL West provides educators a purposeful and systematic means to gather and analyze local data by eliciting and listening to student voice to inform school improvement efforts. School improvement is complex work that relies on multiple sources of information to frame challenges and address and monitor change efforts. Student voice brings an additional, important source of information to these efforts. 

The toolkit offers three tools: 

  • Analyzing Surveys with Kids involves students in analyzing and interpreting survey results associated with a school-related topic or problem and then in producing suggestions for school improvement. 
  • Inside-Outside Fishbowl organizes a special kind of focus group in which students and educators trade roles as speakers and listeners during a facilitated discussion of a school-related topic or problem and then jointly develop an action plan. 
  • Students Studying Students’ Stories guides a digital storytelling process in which students produce and analyze videotaped interviews of other students about a school-related topic or problem and then host forums with educators to suggest improvements. 

The toolkit includes detailed information on how the tools work, the questions they address, the number and types of participants needed, the amount of time required, space and materials considerations, and directions for using the tools. It also includes a tool template so schools and districts can create new student voice tools appropriate to their particular needs and interests.

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