Student Voice is any expression of any student, anywhere, anytime about anything relating to learning, school or the educational experience.

What Does Student Voice Include?

Student voice includes—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.

Because they are expressions about learning, school or education, student voice can also include art, handraising, fighting, bullying, classroom participation, speaking at school board meetings, texting, attendance, students teaching, homework completion, self-assertion, tardiness, device usage, student newspapers, websites, evaluations, and much more.

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
  • Student participation, which is a self-determined act of students committing to something in school.

Student Voice is About Outcomes.

A growing body of evidence surrounds Student Voice, as more students, educators and researchers identify powerful outcomes.


What is Student Voice?
Do you know the Basics of Student Voice?


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

Student Voice is About People.

Any person who participates in a process of learning, including every single student in every classroom in any grade, has a voice that should be engaged in schools.

Who Can Share Student Voice?

Who Can Listen to Student Voice?

Every adult working in education effectively has authority over students. This gives every adult the moral responsibility to listen to Student Voice.

  • Students
  • 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
  • Politicians

Student Voice is About Action.

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.


Student voice is any expression of any student, anywhere, about anything relating to schools, learning or the educational experience. Every student matters. Every student counts.

Where Can Student Voice Be Heard?

Student Voice is About Process.

As the list above shows, there are dozens of ways to actually engage student voice in schools. However, there are five primary steps that every responsible educator should take when working to infuse Student Voice in their practice. These steps make up the Cycle of Engagement.

  • Listen to Student Voice. This is a starting point – not a stopping place.
  • Validate Students. Acknowledge student voice and let students know you listened.
  • Authorize Students. Make new positions and teach new things to give students authority.
  • Take Action. Foster Student/Adult Partnerships that transform schools actively.
  • Reflect. Think about what happened, what you learned, and what you’ll do different.

Student Voice is About Power.

Power happens in many ways. Sometimes it is given, sometimes it is taken and sometimes it is created. There are many places and ways student voice can have power throughout education.


Student Voice Meaningful Student Involvement Student Engagement Process
SoundOut Theory and Practice

When does student voice have power?

Student Voice is About Outcomes.

Outcomes happen inside, throughout and afterwards student voice is expressed. Sometimes they are predictable and measurable, while other times they are immeasurable and undefinable.

When can student voice make a difference?

Student Voice is NOT About…



Student Voice Is THE Missing Piece In School Reform. Learn more <a href="">here</a>.

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Published by Adam Fletcher

Adam is the founding director of SoundOut. An author, speaker and consultant, he has worked with K-12 schools, districts, nonprofits and others for more than 15 years. Learn more about him at

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