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Speak Out, Listen Up! Tools For Using Student Perspectives and Local Data for School Improvement

By BethAnn Berliner, Leslie Poynor, Lori Van Houten


School improvement is complex work that requires multiple sources of information, including from students themselves. What students say about their student experiences can be used to understand and address school-related topics and problems and rethink policies and practices.

Listening to student voice — that is, listening closely to what students say about their school experiences — can help educators understand topics or problems and rethink practices to inform school improvement efforts.

This resource provides educators with a purposeful and systematic way to gather and analyze student experiences to do just that — inform school improvement efforts. This toolkit offers three exercises:

  • Analyzing Surveys with Kids: Students analyze and interpret survey results associated with a school-related topic or problem and then make suggestions for school improvement
  • Inside-Outside Fishbowl: Students and educators trade roles as speakers and listeners during a facilitated discussion of a school-related topic or problem, and then jointly develop an action plan
  • Students Studying Students’ Stories: Students produce and analyze videotaped interviews of other students about a school-related topic or problem, and then host forums with educators to suggest improvements

The toolkit includes detailed information on how the exercises work, the questions they address, the number and types of participants needed, the amount of time required, space and materials considerations, and directions for using the exercises.

The resource also includes a tool template that schools and districts can use to create new tools appropriate to their particular needs and interests.

Resource Details

Product Information

Copyright: 2014
Format: PDF
Pages: 63
Publisher: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences