The Barr Foundation launched the Engage New England Initiative in 2017 to support the development of innovative schools to serve students who are off track to graduate from high school.
This research brief identifies promising strategies for embracing student voice in school design based on the experience of Engage New England (ENE) grantees. Successfully engaging students in decision-making and school design is not as simple as inviting them to attend staff meetings. As ENE grantees learned, meaningfully engaging students requires planning, scaffolding, and sustained attention to both representation and accessibility for the most historically underserved youth. The lessons ENE grantees learned from engaging in a structured, student-centered design process can help other schools to include student voice in school design and they may also be applied more broadly to ongoing continuous efforts. The lessons also may be useful for supporting the engagement of all participants in school design work, adults, and students alike. These lessons learned are presented and described in greater depth throughout the brief.
Designing Schools with and for Students: Lessons Learned from the Engage New England Initiative is the first of a series of research briefs resulting from SRI Education’s evaluation of the Engage New England Initiative. Subsequent releases will address the implementation of core components of the initiative, the student experience in ENE schools, planning year supports, and student outcomes such as high school graduation and successful transition to postsecondary education or training.