Common Core State Standards and Meaningful Student Involvement

Meaningful Student Involvement provides a perfectly suited framework for embedding student/adult partnerships at the heart of the Common Core State Standards. Avoiding the highly prescriptive approaches they took to the original implementation of No Child Left Behind, many states have embraced CCSS for their flexibility.

What It Is

This has encouraged educators to embrace roles for student voice in curriculum, seeing places where they can meaningfully share authority with learners. Because of CCSS, some states openly admonish rote memorization and high stakes accountability now. This supports Meaningful Student Involvement even more.

What It Does

Educators learning to create dynamic curriculum that is responsive to students’ experiences, desires, hopes and interests is a key for engaging students in learning. This requires putting student voice at the center of the classroom.

Student voice is any expression of any student related to anything in education. When positioned at the center of learning and teaching, student voice can illuminate many approaches to fulfilling Common Core, whether through various methods, ideas or activities.

Starting with inquiry-based learning and teaching, student voice can drive classroom practice on a lesson-to-lesson basis. Several math practices at the heart of Common Core rely on student voice, with students at the center of learning, teaching and leadership.

Students and adults who work together to “make sense of problems and persevere in solving them,” “reason abstractly and quantitatively,” and “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others” are defining the nature of student/adult partnerships.

When students gain more authority in their own learning, they inherently struggle against the line.

Where Meaningful Student Involvement Fits

There is a lot of work being done today to integrate student voice and student engagement throughout classrooms. However, despite best intentions, phrases like “student-led learning” and “students in charge” are actually misnomers for what’s happening in these settings. With adult educators still determining which standards students are learning, which benchmarks they are responsible for achieving, and how they are responsible for demonstrating their learning. That is what it means when learning is led by students and when students are in charge.

Meaningful Student Involvement acknowledges this disparity by encouraging educators to establish appropriately labeled relationships called student/adult partnerships. These partnerships are the basis of new interactions between educators and students where adults can and should own their knowledge, expertise and ability while rightfully and healthily empowering students to take ownership and make deep investment in their own learning, teaching and leadership.


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