Student voice is any expression of any learner anywhere, anytime focused on learning, schools or education. This can include, but isn’t limited to, active or passive participation, knowledge, voting, wisdom, activism, beliefs, service, opinions, leadership, and ideas. Student Voice reflects identity, and comes from a person’s experiences, ideals, and knowledge. Student voice is the individual and collective perspective and actions of young people within the context of learning and education.
Student Voice is Not the Same as…
- Meaningful student involvement, which is a process for engaging students as partners in school improvement for the sake of education, community, and democracy.
- Student engagement, which is the excitement and investment a young person feels towards learning
- Pupil consultation, which is a systematic process for listening to students’ opinions about school.
- Student participation, which is a self-determined act of students committing to something in school.
EVERY Student Can Share Student Voice!
- Pre-kindergarten students
- Elementary students
- Junior high/Middle school students
- High school students
- Students of color
- Low-income students
- Low-achieving students
- High-performing students
- ESL/ELL students
- Special needs students
- Gifted students
Every adult working in education effectively has authority over students. This gives every adult the moral responsibility to listen to Student Voice.
Learn more about the Students Who Share Student Voice.
Who Can Listen to Student Voice?
- Classroom teachers
- Building leaders
- School support staff
- School board members
- District and state school leaders
- Education agency officials
- Education policy-makers
- Curriculum makers
- Education researchers
Learn more about the People Who are Part of Meaningful Student Involvement
Student Voice Happens ALL OVER!
Student Voice allows students to share who they are, what they believe, and why they believe what they do with their peers, parents, teachers, and their entire school. Student Voice can be engaged in dozens of ways in classrooms and schools.
Where Can Student Voice Be Heard?
- Classrooms lessons
- Curriculum committees
- Peer teaching
- Self, class, and teacher evaluation
- Self- and community advocacy
- Education research
- Teacher training
- Student government
- School site council
- Staff hiring
- School policy-making
Embracing Student Voice is a Cycle
As the list above shows, there are dozens of ways to actually engage student voice in schools. However, SoundOut has found five primary steps that every responsible educator should take when working to infuse Student Voice in their practice.
- Listen to Student Voice
- Validate Students
- Authorize Students
- Mobilize Students
- Reflect on Meaningful Student Involvement
Learn more about the Cycle of Student Engagement.
Student Voice Makes Outcomes Happen!
A growing body of evidence surrounds Student Voice, as more students, educators and researchers identify powerful outcomes.
What Can Student Voice Positively Affect?
- School improvement goals
- Academic achievement
- The “engagement gap”
- Students’ feelings of agency
- Drop out rates
- Retention of students of color
- Curricular effectiveness
- Teachers’ feelings of efficacy
Learn more about the Outcomes of Meaningful Student Involvement.
- Definitions of Student Voice
- Student Voice Tip Sheet
- Student Voice is Not the Same as Student Engagement
- Other articles