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Student Voice Framework

This framework uses research-backed measures to understand and assess the level of student voice within a classroom or schoolwide setting.

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The Student Voice Framework

This framework can be used to assess a single student voice practice (SVP) either within the classroom or schoolwide. The framework can be used to guide educators through the development or refinement of a SVP in their classrooms and schools. When developing or refining a SVP, educators should consider their decisions within the framework’s elements both individually and collectively.

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Framework Elements

Structures' four elements address the boundaries that establish the parameters and scope of the practice. Relationships' four elements address the power dynamics at play within a SVP.


The context in which a SVP is happening.


The policy, practice, or activity that a SVP is intended to influence.


The reason, or motivation, for a SVP, including the intended beneficiaries and the degree of change expected.


The methods or tools being used to engage students in the practice.


The extent to which students in the setting have the opportunity to participate in a SVP.


The degree of alignment between the intended beneficiaries and the students participating in a SVP.


The level of leadership and initiative that students have within a SVP.


The extent to which decision makers inform students that a SVP contributes to change.

Considerations for Practice

When elements within a SVP are not aligned, a practice can result in increased student anxiety, frustration, and disengagement from classrooms and schools. When making decisions within the elements, educators should reflect on the following:

  • Whose voices are being prioritized. Given the history of schools silencing, excluding, and devaluing students who have been traditionally marginalized within classrooms and schools (e.g., Black, Latina/o, low income, LGBTQ+, students receiving special education services, English-language learners), prioritizing these students’ voices is important to ensure changes made are responsive to their needs.

  • The readiness of students. How high school students engage with adults will look different than elementary school students, yet the intent is the same. SVPs can be scaffolded to better prepare students to participate in and influence decision making.A SVP should be developmentally appropriate for students, including reading level of materials, opportunities to explain what processes are occurring and space for students to ask questions.

  • The readiness of educators. Not all educators may be ready to share power with students. Therefore, it is important to understand the readiness of educators to share power with and be responsive to students prior to implementing a SVP. SVPs can be scaffolded to better prepare educators to share power with students.

  • The classroom and school environment. SVPs thrive in environments where educators and students feel seen, valued, and heard. Supporting relationship building between educators and students can help ensure that educators and students feel comfortable participating in a SVP.

The content on this page and all resources associated with "Student Voice Framework" were created by Samantha Holquist, Dana Mitra, and Jerusha Conner, with technical and editorial assistance from Search Institute staff. Suggested Citation: Holquist, S., Mitra, D., Conner, J., & Search Institute. (2023). Student Voice Framework. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.