August 9, 2016

Kentucky Youth Release "Students As Partners" Report

EMINENCE, KY — On Tuesday, a group of young people released Students as Partners, a report detailing the widespread lack of student inclusion on Kentucky school governance bodies and making the case for change.

Teens from the Prichard Committee Student Voice Team spent the past year surveying peers, teachers, principals, and superintendents in an effort to determine exactly how Kentucky schools leverage student voice as a tool for school improvement.

Results from the nearly 300 Kentucky schools and school districts that responded show that 8% of school councils and 9% of school districts support students to serve on their governing bodies and that 57% of schools do not offer a meaningful outlet for student voice.

After analyzing its data, the Student Voice Team recommended that schools, teachers, administrators, and students seek to develop a culture of mutual respect, support students to serve on school governance bodies, provide students with more meaningful outlets to affect their own learning environment, and empower students to gather feedback from their peers to drive school improvement.

The Students as Partners report release took place at Eminence Independent’s new Ed-Hub, a futuristic and collaborative space that was designed with extensive student input. The school district that has led the state in youth inclusion on school governance bodies, with a voting student member on School-Based Decision-Making Councils at the elementary, middle, and high school levels.

At the youth-facilitated media event, Eminence students and teachers affirmed the merits of student voice. “If educators are designing things that we think are going to be wonderful and great and we’re not including student voice, we’re really not in touch with our audience” said Jennifer Montgomery, an Eminence language arts teacher.

Eliza Jane Schaeffer, a recent graduate of Henry Clay High School and the project lead, described the Student Voice Team’s work as a valuable tool for education stakeholders. “We hope this report will encourage Kentucky to recognize that in strengthening the partnership between young people and adults, we have a valuable opportunity to improve our school system,” she said.

The Kentucky Student Voice Team is an independent, youth-led, statewide organization that supports students as research, policy, and advocacy partners to ensure Kentucky’s education system is as equitable, just, and as excellent as it can be. Until 2021, it was part of the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence, an independent, nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky—early childhood through postsecondary.