IMPROVING OUR School System

Beyond working to improve themselves and their own schools, Student Voice Collaborative members advocate together for regular, broad, representative, and meaningful student participation across our school system.  


Quality Review Shadowing

The Quality Review(QR) is a two- or three-day school visit by experienced educators to each New York City school. It is a primary means of accountability for NYC public schools. During the review, external evaluators visit classrooms and talk with all constituents (school leaders, teachers, students, and parents) while using a rubric to assess how well the school is organized and supporting student achievement. In 2011-2012, SVC members blazed a trail as the first students to serve as Shadows on official Quality Reviews. The hope was to afford students the opportunity to observing up close how schools work, learning how the Department of Education defines school quality, and take note of what student voice looks like in different settings.  At the end of the school year, SVC members share feedback and recommendations for improving the process to a broad audience, including members of the DOE Quality Review team.

After teaming up on 36 Quality Reviews over the last three years, the vast majority of participating Student Shadows and Reviewers agree that the greatest part is getting to learn from one another and see through each other's eyes throughout the process.
Through collaboration, SVC and the Quality Review team are developing a new and promising model for school accountability, which involves students and educators as authentic partners.

Role of the Student Shadow:
a.) Research the school in advance 
b)  Observe activities throughout the day's schedule 
c.) Ask questions to staff, students, and admin (when appropriate)
d.) Take low-inference notes
e.) Code and analyze notes (using both the QR and SVC rubrics) and share findings

The Benefits of Students as Quality Review Shadows (according to QR Reviewers):

• Students are curriculum experts; they’re “living the curriculum“

• Students relate best to students: they “speak the same language” and help others feel comfortable and respond honestly

• Students do an especially good job of making themselves “part of the class” during classroom visits
• Students offer more authentic feedback (on engagement and ownership)
• Students see how well other students understand and whether they're getting the support they need
• The process opens Principals’ eyes to the sorts of meaningful roles that students can play
• Students learn good practices they can bring back to their schools
• Students make important conversations, by nature, more student-centered

In the past, QR Reviewers have shared two key challenges: it is hard to define student voice and ask good questions that elicit helpful information from students.  So, to address these needs, SVC created a Guide to Student Voice for QR Reviewers with examples of student voice observed and questions asked during actual Quality Reviews.


​Citywide Student Voice Agenda

​In February 2014, SVC sent a letter to the new head of NYC Public Schools, Chancellor Carmen Fariña, proposing 6 recommendations for systematizing student voice. Before taking on specific issues, we decided to focus on building real collaborative decision-making “infrastructure.” Our goals is to ensure that students and adults are regularly working together in meaningful ways to improve our schools at every level. Below are the 6 recommendations that serve as the foundation of our Citywide Student Voice Agenda:


1. Keep Students Informed of What’s Going on in the DOE
2. Ensure Every High School has an Empowered Student Council
3. Ensure Every School has a Student-Staff “Action Team”
4. Create More Student Voice Collaboratives at the Network/Cluster and Citywide Levels
5. Establish a Team at the Central Office that is Fully Dedicated to Supporting Student Voice
6. Continue and Expand the Quality Review Student Shadow Initiative