Webb Report

MEETING KENTUCKY’S EDUCATIONAL NEEDS: 

Proficiency, Achievement Gaps, & the Potential of Student Involvement

Zachariah Webb for the Kentucky Department of Education

OVERVIEW

In June 2002, Commissioner Gene Wilhoit of the Kentucky Department of Education requested that preliminary information be gathered concerning student input to education policymakers.  Specifically, the Commissioner wanted to know how the input of low achieving students could be used to enhance their educational experience.  “What excites and motivates these students,” asked the Commissioner, “and how can we motivate our teachers and administrators to change their performance?”

The Commissioner’s request is timely.  The state of Kentucky has recently adopted a goal of “Proficiency by 2014,” a statewide initiative aiming to help every child perform at Proficient levels (on a scale of Novice, Apprentice, Proficient, Distinguished) by the year 2014.  Furthermore, the Kentucky General Assembly recently passed Senate Bill 168, requiring schools to make substantive reductions in the achievement gaps among all student subpopulations, including the notorious racially and income-based divides.  As the state begins to redefine academic “success” as the achievement of ALL students, not just the majority of them, student input and feedback becomes critical to creating positive change in the instruction and achievement of subgroups that have historically been left behind.

PURPOSE OF THIS REPORT

Therefore, this report attempts to do two things.  First, to capture and illustrate how other state education departments are utilizing student input.  Second, to recommend specific actions Kentucky can take to ensure that student input is equitable, meaningful, and manageable.

PROCESS

The education department in each state was contacted by phone or email at least once.  It was explained that the Kentucky Department of Education was interested in developing a Student Advisory Council, and that we were searching for models upon which we might base our own work.  State departments or boards of education were asked if they included any student advisors at the state level.  State education departments involving students generally put me in contact with appropriate staff who were intimately involved in the process. States were then asked more detailed questions about how students were included and how students were selected.  States were also asked informal questions about the effectiveness of their student advisors and if student diversity was a priority or a concern.

Although all fifty states were contacted, in at least two instances states responded incorrectly that they had no student involvement.  While these errors were corrected, there may be state education departments or boards not listed in this report that do include student input.  All attempts have been made to be as thorough and accurate as possible.

FINDINGS

Of the fifty states contacted, twenty indicated that they do include student involvement in education decision-making in some way at the state level.  The most common practice is to include one or two nonvoting student advisors on the state Board of Education.  Generally, students serving in this capacity are either elected through a state student council association or appointed by the state Governor.  Many states include a combination of selection processes.  Five states give students voting rights on the state Board of Education.  Only seven states include a group of more than two student advisors.  A detailed explanation of each state’s student advisory structure and selection process is included on pages 7 – 26 of this report.  Below is a brief summation of each state.

 

SUMMARY OF STUDENT ADVISORS TO STATE EDUCATION AGENCIES

 

State

 

 

# Of Student Advisors

Body Students Advising

Selector of Students

Alaska 2 State Board State Student Council/State Board
California 1 State Board (Voting) State Student Council/State Board/Governor
Connecticut 25-30

2

Commissioner

State Board

Commissioner

Student Advisory Council/Governor

Hawai’i 24

1

State Board

State Board

Public High School Students

Student Advisory Council/Public 7th -12thstdnts

Illinois 20-30 State Board Student Advisory Council/State Superintendent
Iowa 1 State Board State Board/Governor
Louisiana 1 State Board State Student Council
Maryland 1 State Board (Partial Voting) State Student Council/Governor
Massachusetts 44

1

State Board

State Board (Voting)

Public High School Students

Student Advisory Council

Minnesota 15 Commissioner Commissioner
Mississippi 23 State Superintendent State Superintendent
Missouri 1-2 Department of Education Governor
Montana 1 State Board State Student Council
Nevada 1 State Board State Student Council
New Jersey 1 State Board State Student Council
North Carolina 2 State Board Governor
Tennessee 1 State Board (Voting) Governor
Vermont 2 State Board (Voting) Governor
Virginia 12 State Board State Board
Washington 2 State Board State Student Council

Once a state explained its process of obtaining student input, it was asked about the perceived effectiveness of its student advisors.  A commonality was that nearly every state seemed to think that its particular system provided meaningful and equitable student feedback.  However, a few states did express concern about the lack of diverse student representation or the political nature in which the student was selected.

In the short time available to complete this report, it was impossible to gather empirical data about student effectiveness and equitable representation.  Therefore, while the student advisory processes in other states can help guide us, ultimately recommendations must be based on the individual needs of our state and our students.  Will allowing one student voting rights on the Kentucky Board of Education best serve the interests of all students, or should there be a group of students to advise the Commissioner?  Should student councils elect the student representatives?  Should the Governor appoint?  Or does the selective targeting of a diverse group offer the best input as to how to meet our goals?  These questions must be addressed with the specific needs of Kentucky in mind.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The needs of Kentucky educators are clear.  Kentucky educators need to implement the best practices to (1) help every student reach Proficiency by 2014 and (2) comply with Kentucky Senate Bill 168 by closing the various achievement gaps.  Students can provide powerful insight as to how to achieve these goals, but only if the structure of the student group is built to address these needs.

Indeed, student input had a powerful effect at the Kentucky Department of Education Minority Student Achievement Task Force in 2000, yet that effect was not an accident.  Students involved were selectively targeted for their past experiences, passion, and commitment to improving race relations and equity.  Furthermore, the task force provided an environment that facilitated honesty, engagement, and positive feedback from student participants.  These factors are critical to obtaining any meaningful student input.  Therefore, there are certain necessities that must be met in order to develop a student advisory structure that best meets the needs of Kentucky:

Number of Students

To best capture the needs of all students, all students need to be represented.  It is recommended that a group of 20 – 30 students be assembled to advise the Commissioner of education and department staff.  This group should also be accessible to the Kentucky Board of Education.  Twenty to thirty students can clearly illustrate their varying and diverse needs in a way a single student cannot.

Diversity of Students

It is imperative that this group is representative of varying racial, gender, socioeconomic, academic performance (GPA), and disability categories.  It is also important that these students represent different regions of the state and come from schools with varying levels of overall achievement.  Furthermore, the department is encouraged to seek out students in other categories as well, including religion, sexual orientation, and English as a Second Language (ESL).  Regardless of one’s personal beliefs, it is a reality that a variety of students in each one of these categories are currently enrolled in Kentucky public schools.  Every attempt should be made to remove the barriers facing these students by seeking their input.

Grade Level of Students

Along with diversity, it will be helpful to include students from several different grade levels.  Illinois and Virginia are the only states to include middle school and high school students together, and no state currently includes college students or young adults in advisory groups.  A broad range of students from different grade levels will offer a unique insight into the challenges and disconnects between middle school, high school, and college.  A group of students ranging from middle school to college will be the most effective in illustrating the various perspectives and stumbling blocks facing Kentucky’s students, and will complement the department’s current P-16 Council efforts.

Selection Process of Students

The selection process is perhaps the most important factor in establishing an effective student advisory council.  To meet the needs of Kentucky, students who sit on the council must be selectively targeted for their diversity.  Illinois has not only recruited students from the more common subpopulations, but has also actively sought student mothers and students in the Juvenile Justice system.  Pragmatism indicates that public school students, student councils, and Governors alike will often overlook such students in their search for “qualified” representatives.  As Lee Patton, Coordinator of the Student Advisory Council to the Illinois State Board of Education points out, “we must reserve the right to reach out.” The department must recruit students with positive, as well as negative, experiences in Kentucky public schools.  It is exactly their firsthand experience in the realities of our education system that makes these students “qualified.”

There are many ways students can be selectively targeted.  Many of the states surveyed make some sort of effort to obtain students from varying regions.  Perhaps the most manageable way in Kentucky would be to first identify regions of the state that must be represented.  Within each region, high-achieving and low-achieving schools could further be identified for recruitment.  The department could then begin soliciting nominees from the varying racial gender, socioeconomic, grade point average, and disability categories within these targeted regional schools.  Additionally, the Kentucky Department of Education’s new database MAX, touted as one of the most powerful in the nation, could play an invaluable role in targeting potential student advisors.

Alternatively, the State Superintendent of Mississippi asks local superintendents on his Superintendents Advisory Committee to nominate a diverse group of students to serve on his Student Advisory Committee.  Thus, the Commissioner might ask members from his various advisory councils to suggest students who meet the specified criteria.  Many states have also established an application process.  While this may be a viable option, concerns about diverse applicants and who will review the applications must be addressed.

No matter how the students are selected, the selected group must ultimately be representative of all students and must feel comfortable challenging current educational practices.  We must ensure that the students who serve are capable of clearly communicating their thoughts and opinions.  An engaged group of students is useless to Kentucky if it is not diverse, just as a diverse group of students is useless if they are not able or comfortable enough to voice their opinions

Student Advisory Council Environment

With a large group of diverse young people, there must be a commitment from the department to establish an environment of trust.  To obtain meaningful feedback, the department must clearly communicate the purpose and goals of the council, and must engage these students in discussions they can take part in.  In order to contribute, students must be respected, and must be encouraged to question current school and/or department practices.

Meeting face to face with the Commissioner of Education on a bi-monthly or tri-monthly basis (mirroring other current Commissioner advisory councils) will send the message that the views expressed in the council meetings are heard and valued by those with the power to directly influence state education policy.  The Student Advisory Council should be viewed as an equal with the Commissioner’s other advisory councils, and student members should be afforded the same level of respect.  Anything less betrays not only the department’s true priorities, but also the level of trust with the students we are striving to understand and serve.

KENTUCKY’S CHALLENGE

As many educators will note, young people are often more than willing to “tell it like it is.”  Yet young people can often sense the underlying motivations and true commitment levels of their coaches, teachers, principals, and administrators.  To obtain the most meaningful contributions, honesty and respect must be established and maintained.  There must be a commitment from the department to not only seek student input, but to seek input from a plethora of students willing to challenge current practices.

Furthermore, the previous recommendations are not intended to be exclusive of other ways to obtain student input.  It is highly recommended that the Kentucky Board of Education and the Legislature consider including a full voting student member on the state board.  And states such as Massachusetts and Hawai‘i should be applauded and imitated for their elaborate and democratic systems of student participation.

In fact, all states involving students in even the smallest of ways should be commended for their respect of students and their understanding that students can offer invaluable insight about educational systems designed for them.  Nor should student involvement be restricted to the state level.  Every principal and every local school board should have such a faith in the students they are charged with educating that they should be honored to hear their input on a regular basis.  Additionally, the Partnership for Kentucky Schools has developed an excellent model for local schools to acquire data-driven student input.  The methods for including students are abundant.

Unfortunately, actual student input is not as abundant.  In reality, there are still administrators, principals, and teachers who do not believe that all students can learn, nor that low performing, “alternative,” or minority students can offer valuable insights into the educational process.  As we focus on a generation plagued by achievement gaps and emerging from Columbine’s, Jonesboro’s, and Paducah’s, we must listen to our students.  The Kentucky Department of Education can set an appropriate example for each school in the state by faithfully seeking students who will challenge our educators to address the pressing educational needs of today.

Reaching proficiency and closing the achievement gaps both require the participation of students, in leadership, advisory, and decision-making roles.  The Kentucky Department of Education must follow the lead of numerous other states by including students in statewide decision-making.  Yet we must also take advantage of the opportunity to improve upon the work of others by tailoring the process to meet our unique needs.  We must empower ourselves by empowering our students.  Only by respecting all students and actively seeking their input will Kentucky schools, and students, reach their full potential.

ALASKA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            2
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING: Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY: Alaska Association of School Governments and the Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 10th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM: 2 years
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE: circa 1976

 STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

Title 4 of the Alaska Administrative Code requires the Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development to include two nonvoting public high school student members.  Students are required to have two years of high school remaining at the time of appointment and serve a two-year term.  During the first year, the selected student serves as advisory member-elect, and may participate in the work of the board, including debate and deliberation, but may not cast an advisory vote.  During the second year, the advisory member-elect becomes the advisory member.  The student advisory member may participate in board deliberation and debate, and casts a non-binding advisory vote, which is recorded but is not counted in determining the disposition of board matters.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Title 4 of the Alaska Administrative Code states that each year the Alaska Association of School Governments (AASG) may nominate three to five students for consideration to serve on the State Board.  The State Board then chooses one of the AASG nominated students to serve as student advisory member-elect.

CALIFORNIA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            1
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING: California State Board of Education
  • (Full Voting Rights)
  • STUDENT SELECTED BY: California Association of Student Councils, California State Board of Education, & Governor of California
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM: 1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE: 1969, amended 1983 to give the student voting rights

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

According to the California Education Code 33000.5, the Governor is required to appoint one student to serve on the California Board of Education with full voting rights.  The student must be a high school senior enrolled in a public school during his or her term.  The student serves a one-year term.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement, and California offers a $100 stipend for each day the student spends on official business.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year an information packet including an application is sent out by the California Department of Education informing high schools of the student position.  Generally 150 – 200 students apply for the position.  The application requires a resume and several short essays.  A screening committee, comprised of Department of Education staff, State Board of Education members and the current student Board member, selects 12 semifinalists.  The California Association of Student Councils (CASC) then elects 6 of these 12 candidates at the CASC annual conference.  All public high school students in the state (grades 9-12) have the opportunity to attend this conference and cast a vote.  The California State Board of Education then interviews the six candidates elected at the CASC conference.  The State Board submits three of these candidates to the Governor for consideration.  Ultimately, the Governor of California appoints one of the three finalists to serve as the student member on the State Board of Education.

CONNECTICUT

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS: 25 -30  (with 2 serving on State Board of Education)
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING: Commissioner, Connecticut State Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY: Commissioner, Governor of Connecticut
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 9th – 12th grade (12th grade to serve on State Board)
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM: 1-3 years (1 year on State Board)
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE: 1981, amended 1998 to include State Board positions

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

In 1981, the Connecticut Department of Education voluntarily appointed a State Student Advisory Council on Education (SSACE).  The SSACE consists of 19 students from high schools selected randomly from each congressional district of the state.  Eight additional students are also appointed by the Education Commissioner to serve on the council.  The SSACE meets with the Commissioner once each month during the school year to reflect student concerns.

In 1998, the Connecticut General Statutes Title 10, Chapter 163 was amended to require the Commissioner to appoint a State Student Advisory Council on Education (SSACE).  The legislation states that the Commissioner must ensure the council membership “(1) includes male and female students, (2) is racially, ethnically, and economically diverse, (3) includes students from each Congressional district in the state, and (4) includes students who have disabilities.”  Students can serve on the council for up to three years, but cannot serve after high school graduation.

The 1998 legislation also requires that the Connecticut State Board of Education include two nonvoting student members.  Each student member on the State Board must be a public high school senior with at least a B+ grade point average.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year the Commissioner is required to fill vacancies left by graduating seniors on the State Student Advisory Council on Education (SSACE).  Nineteen public high schools are randomly selected, and the Commissioner requests that the principal of each school nominate one student for consideration.  Additionally, there are 8 at-large student members who are also nominated by high school principals.

To fill the two student positions on the State Board, each year the Department of Education sends an information packet and application to Superintendents, High School Principals, guidance counselors, and student council presidents.  Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a one-page statement describing their qualifications.  Generally, 50-85 students apply.  All student members of the SSACE are then invited to review the applications and conduct interviews before submitting five finalists to the Governor of Connecticut.  Adult advisors are present during deliberation, but the student SSACE members make all decisions about the five finalists.  Ultimately, the Governor selects two of the five finalists to serve on the State Board of Education.

HAWAI‘I

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS: 24 (with 1 serving on State Board of Education)
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING: Hawai‘i State Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:  Public High School Students, Hawai‘i State Student Council
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 9th – 12th grade (11th-12th to serve on State Board)
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM: 1 year (may seek re-election)
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE: 1988

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Hawai‘i State Board of Education bylaws require each public secondary school in Hawai‘i to elect a student council.  Each school student council then elects representatives from its own membership to serve on a district student council.  Once elected, the seven district councils then each elect a total of 24 students from their own memberships to serve on the Hawai‘i State Student Council (HSSC). The Hawai‘i State Student Council is charged with advising the Hawai‘i State Board of Education and selecting a student to serve on that board.

The Hawai‘i State Constitution, Article X, Section 2, requires that “The Hawaii State Student Council shall select a public high school student to serve as a nonvoting member on the Board of Education.”  The student serving on the State Board must be a public high school junior or senior and serves a one-year term.  The student is eligible for appropriate state reimbursement, and Hawai‘i offers a $100 stipend for each committee and full Board meeting attended.

SELECTION PROCESS: 
Each school is required by law to elect a local student council.  All secondary school students (grades 9-12) are eligible to vote and run for office in local school elections.  The local school council then elects representatives from its own membership to serve on a district student council.  Likewise, the district student councils elect representatives from their own memberships to serve on the Hawai’i State Student Council (HSSC).
Each year, the Hawai‘i Department of Education and the Hawai‘i State Student Council send information and application materials for the student board position to all public high schools.  The HSSC interviews all candidates and generally selects two to three finalists.  The finalists are then interviewed during two live, call-in television forums on Hawai‘i public television.  The introductory and closing speeches of each candidate are recorded on video and distributed to all Hawai‘i public middle and high schools.  All public school students in grades 7 -12 are eligible to vote, and all schools are mandated to participate in the elections.  The finalist with the highest number of votes then serves on the Hawai‘i State Board of Education for a one-year term.

ILLINOIS

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS: 20-30
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING: Illinois State Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY: Illinois State Board of Education
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 8th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM: 1-4 years
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE: 1975

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

Each year, the Illinois State Board of Education maintains a Student Advisory Council of about 20 – 30 students by selecting new members to replace the graduating 12th grade members.  The Student Advisory Council advises the Illinois State Board of Education on various policy decisions.  Members must be incoming freshmen through seniors in Illinois public, private, or parochial secondary schools.  Students serve until they graduate from high school.  The council meets three to four times a year in varying regions of the state.  The last meeting of the school year is held in conjunction with the State Board.  The Illinois Board of Education voluntarily seeks student input.  There is no legislation mandating student input.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS: 

Each year the Illinois State Board of Education sends application materials to all middle and high schools in the state.  The application requires an essay and two letters of recommendation.  Generally 100-150 students apply for membership.  Graduating seniors on the council help review applications and conduct interviews.  The Coordinator and State Superintendent approve selections made by the seniors.  In the past, the selection committee has targeted student mothers and students in the juvenile justice system, as well as students in varying regional, racial, socioeconomic, and academic performance categories.

IOWA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS: 1
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING: Iowa State Board of Education
  • STUDENT SELECTED BY: Iowa State Board of Education & the Governor of Iowa
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 11th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM: 1 year (2 year term limit)
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE: 2003

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Iowa General Assembly House File 2515 states that the Governor of Iowa shall appoint one nonvoting student member from a list of candidates supplied by the Iowa State Board of Education.  The law states that only high school juniors or seniors are eligible for the position, and they must have attended Iowa public school for at least one year prior to serving on the State Board.  If the student does not graduate at the end of the first term, he or she may seek re-nomination from the Governor.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:
The Iowa General Assembly House File 2515 states that the Iowa State Board of Education shall specify criteria for student selection, “including, but not limited to, academic excellence, extracurricular and community activities, and interest in serving on the board.”  The specifics of the selection process are still being developed, due to the very recent passage of the legislation.

LOUISIANA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS: 1
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING: Louisiana Board of Elementary & Secondary Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY: Louisiana Association of Student Councils
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM: 1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE: 1986

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voluntarily includes one nonvoting student member.  The student is a high school senior and serves a one-year term.  The student must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be enrolled in a member school of the Louisiana Association of Student Councils (LASC).  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement, and student absences from school for State Board related meetings do not count against his or her attendance record.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Interested students submit an application to the Louisiana Association of Student Councils (LASC).  The application requires a transcript, two letters of recommendation, and a one-page essay.  The LASC Executive Director, one student, and the adult advisors from each LASC officer school review the applications.  The LASC Executive Director, the LASC advisor and student officer from each officer school, one high school principal, and the student President of the LASC then interview ten finalists.  This selection panel ultimately selects the student member of the State Board as well as one runner-up.  The runner-up is introduced to the Board and assumes the student position if the selected student cannot fulfill his or her duties.

MARYLAND

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            1
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING:                 Maryland State Board of Education
  • (Partial Voting Rights)
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY: Maryland Association of Student Councils & the Governor of Maryland
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL: 11th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1985, amended 1993

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

Education Article 2-202 of the Annotated Code of Maryland authorizes the Governor to appoint one student member to the Maryland State Board of Education.  The student must be a public high school junior or senior and serves a one-year term.  Student members of the Maryland State Board of Education have partial voting rights; they are excluded from votes concerning the budget, legal appeals, and the removal or reprimand of personnel. 

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year, the Maryland Association of Student Councils (MASC) mails an information packet and application materials to all public high schools.  The application requires a resume, three essay questions, and four letters of recommendation.  An application review committee selects five finalists.  The committee includes the MASC President, 2nd Vice President, one MASC regional President, one adult MASC regional advisor, and the current student State Board of Education member.  The final five candidates speak before a student Legislative Session, where approximately 800 Maryland high school and middle school students attend and have the opportunity to vote for two candidates.  The two students elected are then interviewed by the Governor of Maryland, who ultimately selects one of them to serve on the State Board.

MASSACHUSETTS

  •  NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            44, with 1 serving on Mass. Board of Education
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING:                 Massachusetts Board of Education, Commissioner
  • (Full Voting Rights)
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Massachusetts Regional Student Advisory Councils
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL:                                    9th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             1 year (3 year term limit)
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1972

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 15, Section 1E require the establishment of five to fifteen Regional Student Advisory Councils and one State Student Advisory Council.  Each public secondary school is required by law to elect two students to its respective regional council.  All grade levels (9th – 12th) are eligible to vote and run for office.  The Regional Student Advisory Councils are charged with advising the State Student Advisory Council.

Once the regional councils are established, each will elect four of its own members to the State Student Advisory Council.  Of the four, one student must be from a vocational school.  The State Student Advisory Council is charged with advising the Massachusetts Board of Education.  Additionally, the State Student Advisory Council elects a chairperson who serves as a full voting member on the Massachusetts Board of Education.  The State Student Advisory Council meets with Department of Education staff once each month of the school year.  Student members of both regional and state councils are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.  The legislation also states that students should be awarded academic credit for their involvement. 

SELECTION PROCESS:

As stated above, each year all public secondary schools elect two student representatives to serve a one-year term on their Regional Student Advisory Council.  All public high school students (grades 9-12) are eligible to vote and run for office.  In a letter from the Department of Education notifying schools of the upcoming elections, it is noted that “Special encouragement might be given to students who belong to linguistic, cultural and racial groups that have historically been under-represented on the Student Advisory Council.”  Once established, the Regional Student Advisory Councils elect members to serve on the State Student Advisory Council.  The State Student Advisory Council then elects a chairperson, who also serves as the student representative to the Massachusetts Board of Education with full voting rights.

MINNESOTA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            15
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING:            Commissioner
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Minn. Department of Children, Families, & Learning
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL:                                    10th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             2 years
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1999

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Minnesota Youth Advisory Council was voluntarily implemented in 1999 by the Commissioner of Children, Families, & Learning, the state agency that oversees public education in Minnesota.  The Youth Advisory Council is composed of 15 public high school students.  According to the Department, the Youth Advisory Council “will act as an incubator for new ideas, where youth-generated ideas and solutions to problems can be brought to policy makers.”  The Youth Advisory Council meets on a monthly basis with the Commissioner or department staff.  The Commissioner of Children, Families, & Learning, Dr. Christine Jax, voluntarily seeks this student input.  There is no legislation in Minnesota mandating student input.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year, a letter and application packet is mailed and e-mailed to all local superintendents, as well as high school counselors and social studies teachers.  The department also targets various school staff likely to encourage students to apply.  The application requires a letter of introduction, and two letters of recommendation.  Staff within the Department of Children, Families, & Learning narrow the applicants to about 20 finalists, ensuring there is equal regional representation.  Ultimately, department staff selects the student members, which serve for up to two years on the council.

MISSISSIPPI

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            23
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING:            State Superintendent
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  State Superintendent’s Advisory Committee
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     10th – 12 grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             2 years
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1998

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

Each year, the Mississippi State Superintendent of Education voluntarily requests that each member of his Superintendent’s Advisory Committee, composed of 23 public school superintendents, select a student member to serve on the State Superintendent’s Student Advisory Committee.  The group is informal and meets periodically with the State Superintendent to discuss education issues in the state.  The State Superintendent of Education, Dr. Richard Thompson, voluntarily seeks this student input.  There is no legislation in Mississippi mandating student input.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:

The 23 local superintendents who comprise the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee are each asked to appoint a student to the Student Advisory Committee.  The State Superintendent of Education requests diverse candidates, and efforts are made to include students who are not always presented with honors or awards.  Members include students from vocational organizations (FFA, FBLA, etc.), students with varying GPA’s, and students from varying gender and racial categories.

MISSOURI  (Incomplete)

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            1-2  (Out of 20 assigned to various state agencies)
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING:            Missouri Department of Elementary & Secondary Edu.
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Governor of Missouri
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     not available
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             not available
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        not available

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Missouri Youth Cabinet is a group of 20 students selected by the Governor to advise various state agencies from a youth perspective.  Typically, two of the twenty students are assigned to the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Each student member of the Governor’s Youth Council chairs a committee of students.  These committees assist the students in the advising process.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Various youth organizations are targeted for recruitment and typically 500 students apply for the Governor’s Youth Council.  The Governor’s Youth Policy Team narrows the candidate field.

No further information is available at this time.

MONTANA  (Incomplete)

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:                1
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING:                        Montana Board of Public Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                              Montana Association of Student Councils
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                                 not available
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:                         1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                                    not available

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

  • not available

SELECTION PROCESS

Each year the Montana Association of Student Councils (MASC) sends and information packet and application to Montana high schools.  The application requires a letter of recommendation.  Applications are reviewed by the MASC.

No further information is available at this time.

NEVADA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            1
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING:            Nevada State Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Nevada Association of Student Councils
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     11th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1978

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Nevada State Board of Education voluntarily includes one nonvoting student representative.  The student member is a high school junior or senior and serves a one-year term.  The student member is required to attend four of the annual State Board of Education meetings, and give a report after corresponding with student groups.  This is an informal agreement between the Nevada State Board of Education and the Nevada State Student Council.  There is no legislation in Nevada mandating student involvement.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year, the Nevada Association of Student Councils elects a student from its membership to serve on the Nevada State Board of Education.  All officers elected at membership schools meet at an annual NASC conference.  Each candidate submits an application to NASC and then campaigns for the position at the conference. Only elected officers of NASC member schools may run for the position, and only NASC members may vote.  The top vote getter is elected to the Nevada State Board of Education for one year.  Additionally, the Student Representative is required to send newsletters to each high school student council and have regular correspondence with the NASC.

NEW JERSEY

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            1
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING:            New Jersey State Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:            New Jersey Association of Student Councils
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     11th – Adult grades
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1976 

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The New Jersey Department of Education voluntarily includes one student “guest” to sit with the State Board for a one-year term.  According to the Department of Education, “Students are generally junior, senior, or adult school students who have a special interest in Department of Education practices and policies.  The student is invited to present a three-minute speech on an educational topic of the student’s choice.”  Additionally, the State Board invites two other rotating student guests to attend each monthly meeting.  Student guests are not required to be enrolled in public school.  The New Jersey State Board of Education voluntarily seeks this student input.  There is no legislation in New Jersey mandating student input.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year the New Jersey Association of Student Councils (NJASC) selects one student to serve a one-year term on the State Board.  The NJASC also selects one of the two rotating guests.  The Division of Regional Services selects the second rotating guest from districts throughout the state.  The Department selects students who represent “a broad geographic distribution of urban, suburban, and rural districts as well as vocational, private, parochial, alternative, or special needs schools.

NORTH CAROLINA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            2
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING:            North Carolina State Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Governor of North Carolina
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     11th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             2 years
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1986

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

According to the North Carolina General Statutes 115C-11, the governor of North Carolina is authorized to appoint “two high school students who are enrolled in the public schools of North Carolina as advisors to the State Board of Education.  The student advisors shall participate in State Board deliberations in an advisory capacity only.”  One 11thgrade student is appointed to the State Board each year, and serves a two-year term.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:

The Governor of North Carolina accepts all nominations for the student advisory position, though there is no statewide effort to solicit nominees.  Generally, guidance counselors and principals contact the Governor’s Office with the names of students they would like to nominate.  The students are then required to submit a resume and character reference to the Governor’s Office.  Due to the election of a new Governor in North Carolina, the new selection process has not been finalized in detail.  Ultimately, however, the Governor of North Carolina appoints the student advisor to the State Board of Education.

TENNESSEE

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            1
  • BODY STUDENT IS ADVISING:            Tennessee State Board of Education
  • (Full Voting Rights)
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Governor of Tennessee
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     11th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1984

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 49-1-301 requires the Governor of Tennessee to appoint one public high school student to the State Board of Education.  The legislation states that “The high school student shall be of superlative standing and shall serve for a one-year term in an ex officio capacity.  The student member shall be appointed each year from nominees chosen by the local board of education in each school system at each board’s discretion, with no more than one student from each school system being nominated, and with the students having reached their junior or senior year in high school.”  Student Board members are granted full voting rights and are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year, the Governor of Tennessee requests that each local school board nominate a student to serve on the State Board of Education.  There is not a formal application process.  However, local school boards are asked to submit a letter of recommendation and a resume for their nominee.  After reviewing each nominee, the Governor then appoints the student Board Member.  Generally, the Governor attempts to alternate the region from which the student is selected between East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee.  Past student board members have typically had a 4.0 GPA and above.

VERMONT

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            2
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING:            Vermont State Board of Education
  • (Full Voting Rights)
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Governor of Vermont
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     9th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             2 years
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        2000

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

Title 16, Chapter 3 of the Vermont Statutes requires the Vermont State Board of Education to include two student members from Vermont secondary schools.  Students are required to have two years of high school remaining at the time of appointment and serve a two-year term.  The law states “The student member shall not vote during the first year and shall be a full voting member during the second year of his or her term.”  The Governor of Vermont appoints one student to the board each year.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Title 16, Chapter 3 of the Vermont Statutes states that the Governor of Vermont must use an application process that is “open and accessible to all eligible students” when appointing students to the State Board.  Each year, the Governor’s office sends a letter of notification to each Superintendent and Principals of secondary schools.  The Governor’s Office also makes follow-up calls to ensure superintendents and principals are aware of the need to encourage students to apply.  Typically there are 40-70 applicants for the position.  All are screened by the Governor’s Office.  Currently, the Governor of Vermont personally interviews five finalists before he appoints one student to the Vermont State Board of Education.

VIRGINIA

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            12
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING:            Virginia Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Virginia Board of Education
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVEL:                                    6th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             1 year
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        2001 

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Virginia Board of Education bylaws state that the board shall have a standing Student Advisory Committee consisting of 12 students.  Of the 12 students, 8 are required to be high school students (grades 9-12) from each of the 8 Virginia Superintendent Regions.  The remaining 4 students are required to be middle school students (grades 6-8) selected at-large from the state.  Once selected, student members serve a one-year term.  The Student Advisory Council is required to meet three times a year, with one meeting each year coinciding with a regularly scheduled Board meeting.  The Virginia Board of Education voluntarily seeks this student input.  There is no legislation in Virginia mandating student input.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement. 

SELECTION PROCESS:

The Virginia Board of Education bylaws state that a committee of Board members appointed by the Board President shall select the Student Advisory Council members.  Letters announcing the positions and application process are mailed to high school and middle school principals each year.  The application requires a resume, an essay, and two letters of recommendation.

WASHINGTON

  • NUMBER OF STUDENT ADVISORS:            2
  • BODY STUDENTS ARE ADVISING:            Washington State Board of Education
  • STUDENTS SELECTED BY:                  Washington Association of Student Councils
  • STUDENT GRADE LEVELS:                     11th – 12th grade
  • LENGTH OF STUDENT TERM:             2 years
  • PROGRAM IN PLACE SINCE:                        1975

STUDENT ADVISORY STRUCTURE:

The Washington State Board of Education voluntarily includes two nonvoting student members, one a public high school senior and one a public high school junior.  One student member represents the state’s eastern region while the other represents the state’s western region.  Each student serves a two-year term beginning in 11th grade and ending in 12th grade.  The Washington State Board of Education voluntarily seeks this student input.  There is no legislation in Washington mandating student input.  Students are eligible for appropriate state reimbursement.

SELECTION PROCESS:

Each year, the Washington Association of Student Councils (WASC) sends a notification packet and application to each public high school in Washington.  Every high school has the opportunity to nominate one student for consideration, though high schools are not required to do so.  Nominees from each high school must complete an application including an essay component.  Applications are reviewed and interviews are conducted by a selection committee consisting of WASC student members and the two students who sit on the State Board at that time.  One adult WASC advisor and the State Board of Education President oversee the selection process, but in an advisory capacity only.  The two current student members and the WASC student representatives ultimately decide upon the new student Board member.

SOURCES/ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

 The following individuals deserve many thanks for their assistance with this report:

  • Harry Gamble, Alaska Department of Education and Early Development
  • Greg Geeting, California State Board of Education
  • Pam Bergin & Elizabeth Rivera, Connecticut State Department of Education
  • Lana Mito, Hawai‘i Department of Education
  • Lee Patton, Illinois State Board of Education
  • Jeff Zaring, Indiana Department of Education
  • Bev Adams, Iowa Department of Education
  • Carolyn Witt Jones, Partnership for Kentucky Schools
  • Barbara Freiberg, Louisiana State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
  • Shawn Stelow, Maryland State Department of Education
  • Lisa Bishop, Maryland Governor’s Office on Service and Volunteerism
  • Donna Taylor, Massachusetts Department of Education
  • Gaye Sorenson, Minnesota Department of Children, Families, & Learning
  • Joy Milam, Mississippi Department of Education
  • Ben Smilowitz, Missouri Office of the Governor
  • Steve Meloy, Montana Board of Public Education
  • Derek Duncan, former Montana student board member
  • LaDonna Bird, Nevada Department of Education
  • Marjan Hajibandeh, current Nevada student board member
  • New Jersey State Board of Education Office
  • Betsy West, North Carolina State Board of Education (even though she is a Duke fan)
  • Reginold Hollie, North Carolina Office of the Governor
  • Phyllis Childers, Tennessee Department of Education
  • Julie Perrey, Tennessee Office of the Governor
  • Charity Clark, Vermont Office of the Governor
  • Dr. Cynthia Cave, Virginia Department of Education
  • Patty Martin, Washington Department of Education
  • Lacey Androsko, current Washington student board member
  • Brooke & Kati Haycock, Education Trust
  • Diane Piché, Citizens’ Commission on Civil Rights

Thanks to the many not listed here who took the time to return phone calls, emails, and provide information about their state.

Thanks to all the Kentucky Department of Education staff who consulted and assisted with this report.

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