SoundOut for Meaningful Student Involvement

People Affected by Meaningful Student Involvement

There are innumerable people who can be affected by Meaningful Student Involvement, no matter where it is happening, who is involved or what it is addressing.

Among the many stakeholders, it is vital to understand exactly how Student/Adult Partnerships can be most effective. Fielding addresses this when he wrote,

“the inclusion of student voice can be achieved in a variety of different methods that allow multiple opportunities for students to be included in the planning and decision-making about their own learning environment but that it will be the leadership of the principal that ultimately determines which school-based decisions will be inclusive of student voice.” (Fielding, 2001)

Following is an examination of those people who are affected by Meaningful Student Involvement, including students, the principal, and others throughout the education system.  After that is a list with links to information on this site.


All students everywhere, in every grade and every school, should experience Meaningful Student Involvement every day. Individual students determine whether they’re meaningfully involved. You are in ultimately in charge of your own education because you can actively choose whether or not you are going to actively participate and learn in schools. Younger and older students actively and passively influence other students’ decision-making. This can be meaningful if its done intentionally to make schools better. Many schools have active programs that draw out “traditional student leaders” by identifying certain skills or abilities students have. Despite having a range of abilities, these student leaders are mostly focused on activities that affect students only. However, a growing number of student leaders have an increasing amount of ability to affect the whole education system. There are also “nontraditional” student leaders whose influence over their peers’ decision-making has not been acknowledged in school.

Local Schools

Guiding children is one of the most important jobs of parents; this is especially true in schools. Parents can also passively or actively decision-making. As their students’ most vital advocates, parents are also the first partners that students have in schools. Teaching parents about Meaningful Student Involvement and ensuring their ability to advocate for it is essential.

Support staff, paraprofessionals and adult volunteers are vital for Meaningful Student Involvement. Secretaries, adult tutors, coaches, librarians, classroom assistants, and parent representatives may influence student decision-making. Paraprofessionals are people who are hired to work in schools to help students and teachers be successful.

Everyday students are subjected to a range of decisions made by teachers about grading, curriculum, behavior management, and relationships with students. Teachers are also responsible for executing others’ decisions. They are key for integrating Meaningful Student Involvement into curriculum and classroom management, as well as the regular climate of schools. Among the faculty at a school are teachers whose experience, knowledge, or influence gives them ability, authority, or position to make decisions for other teachers. These teachers may lead grade-level or curriculum areas, participate on special committees, or influence decision-making in other ways. They are essential for Meaningful Student Involvement because they teach younger teachers and lead many processes. As allies, teacher leaders can drive the adoption and development of Meaningful Student Involvement throughout education, particularly in local buildings, but extending in districts and throughout state or provincial governments.

Students often go to counselors to ask questions, seek advice, and talk to when they need a supportive adult in school. While they often guide student decision-making with classes or life after high school, counselors may also help students make decisions about life in general. This makes their role in Meaningful Student Involvement essential, since they can help young people remain conscious of their roles as partners to adults throughout education.

In many schools, principals need assistants to guide behavior management, budgeting, staff supervision, curriculum, and other areas. They affect students by doling out punishments and rewards; guiding student activities; and in other ways. This potentially positions them as key proponents for and benefactors of Meaningful Student Involvement. Securing their ongoing commitment to engaging students as partners is key. The commonly acknowledged “leader” of a school, whether a principal, headmaster, or lead learner, is responsible for most areas of school operations, including many of the assistant principal roles listed above. They also publicly represent the school; mediate conflicts among students, staff, parents, and community members; and interact with district, state, and federal authorities. They set the schoolwide agenda for improvement and transformation, and ensure the ongoing commitment of adults and students to Meaningful Student Involvement.

School Districts

Officials on the district level administer programs, funds, rules and regulations given to them by their superiors. In some states districts are simply counties (Maryland) or large regions. New York City has more than ten districts. District offices may also be known as a local education agency, or LEA. As the leader of a given area or group of schools, superintendents are often the first elected official in the chain of decision-making affecting students. Sometimes they are appointed by the district school board or city mayor. They act as the figurehead and authority of all education-related issues within their physical area of authority.

The district school board are elected officials get recommendations from the public and the superintendent to deliver their range of decision-making authority. They set the budget and agenda of schools, assign students to schools, make rules and policies, set learning standards, and more. This is only more essential if there are students engaged on the school board, because adults in these situations regularly interact with students in nontraditional ways that are intended to be partnerships. Meaningful Student Involvement can move them there.

Education Agencies

In regional and state education agencies, adults may have a variety of roles as program administrators, data evaluators, education researchers, teacher trainers and leadership. Regional education agencies are in-between organizations that may offer professional development, administrative guidance, or funding to districts and local schools. These offices have different names, including Educational Service Districts (Washington); BOCEs (New York); or Regional Service Centers (Texas). Their support for Meaningful Student Involvement can ensure local district and building adoption, provide essential adult professional development, create new programs and opportunities, and many other things.

On the state level, education employees are responsible for administering federal and state programs designed to meet the goals of schools. Also known as the state education agency or department of education, in several states this may include or be a Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. These officials interpret state and federal policy requirements, implement programs, research schools and conduct many other activities as a backbone for districts and local schools. Their support for Meaningful Student Involvement may ensure fiscal and policy support, as well as develop a political will.

These agencies are led by a state education leader. The state education leader may be elected or appointed; they may also work equally with the state school board and governor, or independently. They may also either serve as the political leaders of public education, or be directly appointed to ensure that the state governor is following political will in schools. They are responsible for guiding the implementation of the rules, regulations, laws, budgets, and programs of the state legislature; in some states, the governor; and the federal government. This person may be called the Chief Education Officer, or the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI). State education leaders can set the tone for the education culture of a state, and as such they are essential for Meaningful Student Involvement.

The state school board is an elected group of officials that overseas all schools and ensures the state’s adherence to federal rules and regulations. Students can be meaningfully involved as full voting members elected by their peers are responsible for a full slate of activities, issues, and outcomes. They may engage students as members of their board, too, thereby serving as essential role models of Meaningful Student Involvement.

The state school board may or may not have the support of the state governor, legislature, or state supreme court. These are all state-level officials who are responsible for setting state priorities and funding for education, as well as ensuring local, state, and federal compliance with education laws. Their roles directly affect K-12 schools every single day, and as such their support for Meaningful Student Involvement is vital.

Federal Agencies

In the United States, there are a variety of adults in federal agencies who can benefit Meaningful Student Involvement. Their support cannot be understated. The United States Secretary of Education is the individual official responsible for setting and implementing the President’s education agenda. They operat the United States Department of Education, which is the federal agency responsible for administering the budgets, rules, and regulations of the Secretary of Education and the Congress. Responsible for allocating funding throughout the education system and ensuring the President’s education agenda is being fulfilled, the Department has countless roles throughout the process of educating students, guiding schools, evaluating outcomes and building public will. All of this can and should be informed through Meaningful Student Involvement.

The United States Congress is made of elected officials who are responsible for setting the President’s educational policy recommendations into motion, in addition to supplementing their states’ policy with additional funding. Held accountable by their local constituents and other national forces, these politicians could ensure the fidelity and sustainability for Meaningful Student Involvement throughout the future. Their roles cannot be overstated. Similarly, the United States Supreme Court justices are appointed to make sure the government, including schools, districts, states and the federal government, complies with the Constitution and Bill of Rights through their interpretation of the law.

The President is the elected official who is ultimately responsible for setting national educational priorities that affect all public schools. With a single pen stroke, they could implement Meaningful Student Involvement with any amount of force throughout any level of education.

Other Adults

There are countless other adults who are affected and who can affect Meaningful Student Involvement. These include nonprofit education organizations, including membership groups like the PTA, teachers unions, and others, as well as community-based organizations that augment, enhance, or balance the roles of schools throughout society. They also include education publishers, who are the companies that develop the educational materials used in schools. Assessments, curricula, books, computer apps, and many other tools could be transformed vastly with Meaningful Student Involvement.

People affected by Meaningful Student Involvement:

Other parties potentially affected by Meaningful Student Involvement:

  • Nonprofit education organizations
  • Education professional associations
  • PTA
  • Teachers unions
  • Education publishers
  • Assessment companies
  • App developers
  • Tech manufacturers


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