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 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 Student Voice Team was founded in 2012 at the Prichard Committee, a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization working to improve education in Kentucky for all ages. 

Since 2021 they have been the Kentucky Student Voice Team, an independent, statewide organization organization of young people who are co-creating more just, democratic Kentucky schools & communities as research, policy & advocacy partners.