Student Government and Meaningful Student Involvement

SoundOut Student Voice Team at Cleveland High School, Seattle WA
Students at the SoundOut Student Voice Summer Camp in Seattle, Washington.

In many K-12 schools around the world, student government is intended to represent student voice. These groups include student councils, associated student body, etc. These are representative decision-making structures that operate in many primary and secondary schools. Frequently providing token opportunities, many address social activities and other superficial topics.

Opportunities for Meaningful Student Involvement

In a small but growing minority of schools, they are increasingly working for the larger purpose of school management, evaluation and student engagement by moving past representative governance and towards Student/Adult Partnerships. They can do this by engaging students as researchers, planners, teachers and trainers, evaluators, decision-makers and advocates for more effective student government. One example comes from Boston, Massachusetts.

  • BOSTON: The Boston Student Advisory Council worked with the Student Engagement Advisory Council, or to write the Student Government Circular and reinstating it in the Boston Public Schools, mandating that all BPS High Schools are required to have a functioning student government, a student council, a student leadership team, or other student leadership structure. Student Government advisors from different schools have been meeting at district-wide centralized trainings. Also, an annual conference has been established for members of the student governments across the district to attend. Both the Mayor and the Superintendent were in attendance at this conference.

Related Content


Elsewhere Online

  • School Councils UK – This excellent resource promotes empowered student councils that actually do substantive work.

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