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Redesigning School

Clearinghouse of Student Voices

Fighting low expectations

No Future Left Behind

In this YouTube video, middle school students communicate that they are the future of America. Instead of learning how to memorize and recite, they would rather be taught how to think and communicate. The students also express the need for individualized learning instead of teaching to the masses, which, in their minds, “creates boredom, not laziness”. For more on this video, click on the link above.

Revisiting “A Vision of Students Today”

In this YouTube video, students express their profound need for a change in the way classrooms are run today. Fixated more on their Ipods, Facebook profiles, and text messaging rather than on what their professor is saying, this video demonstrates the thoughts and feelings of students while teachers think they are listening. Students want their teachers to change how the curriculum is taught to be up to date with the latest technology rather than lecturing in front of the class.

Students are bored, many skip school, lack adult support

A special report from Indiana University's High School Survey of Student Engagement, based on 81.000 student responses from 26 states, reports, "Today's high school students say they are bored in class because they dislike the material and experience inadequate teacher interaction." In addition, "the findings, show that 2 out of 3 students are bored in class every day, while 17 percent say they are bored in every class." Furthermore, lack of adult support and skipping school were also mentioned as reasons for high drop out rates among students.

"First Person": Students Document Their Own Lives

"Six students in the Philadelphia public school system were each given a video camera as part of an independent film project. That simple premise expanded radically over the next two years, resulting in this profound and vital documentary covering the difficulties these applicants faced preparing for college while dealing with the daily trials and tribulations inherent in being a student in schools with a 50% or worse drop-out rate. While conditions may be difficult, the film does offer signs of hope", writes reviewer, Alexander Russo.

The State of Our Nations Youth 2008-2009. (link)

In this annual report, the Horatio Alger Association analyzes the varying types and levels of family and peer support that American youth receive, youths' outlook on numerous issues from education to social attitudes, and what these students see as the biggest obstacles in their lives (as opposed to obstacles perceived by adults and educators). Two big trends in this year's report were both related to the influence of technology in today's world: "Asked to pick from a list of possible improvements to their school, students say that more up-to-date technology would make the biggest difference. They also believe that their science and technology classes are the most important to take when comes to preparing them to succeed in the global economy."

Sent to the Principal: Students Talk About Making High Schools Better

Kathleen Cushman talked with 65 students nationwide, learning their insights on a range of issues that exert a largely unnoticed effect on how they learn and thrive. The students describe small signals that tell them whether their school expects them to succeed. They suggest ways to include their peers in routine decisions adults often make-about security, food, transportation, discipline-which affect their school experience. When they speak of matters that may seem purely practical, they link these back to the crucial issues of relationships between adults and young people. Students speak eloquently of the sense of investment and trust that follows when those relationships are strong and inclusive.

Rising to the Challenge: Are High School Graduates Prepared for College and Work? (link, pdf)

This February 2005 study for Achieve, Inc. found, "High school graduates welcome raised standards of achievement. An overwhelming majority of graduates say that they would have worked harder if their high school demanded more of them and set higher academic standards. High school graduates, employers, and instructors support a broad reform agenda, including strongly supporting measures that would raise the expectations for high school students, test them more rigorously, and require them to take more challenging courses."