Our work with students across the state, as well as a myriad of research, makes it clear that student success is deeply tied to a sense of agency, autonomy, and belonging. However, traditional student surveys often decrease this autonomy when students are not given authority and knowledge of their own responses.
In partnership with Panorama, a student-founded tech firm specializing in school survey work, we put the power of school climate data and analysis into the hands of students. Our team works directly with students at each of the schools we work with, ensuring that school climate work feels community-led and authentic.
We target a set of schools that represent the geographic and demographic diversity of Kentucky, supporting districts and producing information about what students experience related to school climate and culture. We hope our student-driven audits model a meaningful student role in school climate work.
Our First Audit
In 2015, we pioneered our School Climate Audit at Robert D. Campbell Junior High School in Clark County. Fresh off of a nationally-covered legislative campaign and a report on college transitions, we took a step down to investigate education at the grassroots. Over two visits, a small team of Student Voice Team members sat in on classes, observed the environment, and interviewed students, teachers, and administrators. Additionally, all students and teachers completed a handwritten survey.
In our first audit, we discovered that teachers and administrators did not fully understand their school's culture. When asked an open-ended question to describe an important issue that needed to be addressed at Campbell, 230 students explicitly mentioned some form of bullying. No teacher or administrator mentioned bullying.