Graduation Date

5-2019

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree

Master of Science

Program

Education

Program Director

Elizabeth Truesdell, PhD

First Reader

Jennifer Lucko, PhD

Second Reader

Katie Lewis, PhD

Abstract

Although the presence of student voice in schools has diminished over the past few decades due to a nationwide focus on standardized testing and school accountability, recent student movements and a push for equity and engagement in school reform efforts have brought this topic back to the forefront. A large body of research shows that involving students in school decision-making increases their leadership skills and makes them feel more connected to their school community. Few studies, however, examined elementary-level student involvement and its impact on the school community. The purpose of this research was to examine how the presence of school-wide student voice initiatives at the elementary level impact the school community. This study utilized a qualitative approach and data was collected through interviews, questionnaires, and focus groups at a K-8 School in Northern California. The results of this study showed that the school’s perception of students’ leadership capabilities was directly related to the number of student voice opportunities on campus. The minimal attention given to developing student voice opportunities at the elementary level failed to meet the principal’s vision of leveraging student voice to develop a strong sense of community. Results also revealed that elementary students want increased opportunities to use their voice, which emphasizes the need for schools to develop and effectively implement student voice initiatives at the elementary level.

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