When Students Speak and Educators Listen: Student-Voice Tools for Dropout Prevention

Two high school students collaborating

“To support students in persisting and graduating [from high school], we knew we needed a deeper understanding of their reasons for quitting school. And to do that, we needed to ask students to tell their personal stories of dropping out and returning to school, and really listen to what they had to say.” — Jennifer Harris, Program Evaluator, Washoe County School District, Nevada

To help keep students on track to graduate from high school, Washoe County School District (WCSD) administrators tapped into a rich source of data that had been missing from their previous efforts to reduce dropout rates: student voices — input from the students themselves.

This R&D Alert article describes how a school district collaborated with students who dropped out in order to learn why they left school and what the district could do to better address their unique challenges.

WCSD used a student-voice toolkit that enables educators to engage and empower students to address any number of local school-improvement problems, including dropout prevention. Speak Out, Listen Up! Tools for Using Student Perspectives and Local Data for School Improvement was developed and produced by WCSD and REL West.

Using the toolkit as a guide, Washoe students helped produce a moving video that became a powerful tool for raising district- and state-level awareness of the challenges, strengths, and aspirations of individual students who dropped out of high school but later returned.

Read the R&D Alert Online article.*

* This article was originally posted in February 2015.

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