equity themes > student agency and voice

Student Agency and Voice

Equity Wheel asset based system

Aligned LCFF PriorityPriority 5 Pupil Engagement.

The Problem

As students go through the grades, there is a predictable, well-documented downward trajectory in student engagement. According to a 2016 Gallup poll, about three-quarters of 5th-graders — an age at which students are full of joy and enthusiasm for school — report high engagement in school. By middle school, slightly more than half of students report being engaged. By high school, only one-third of students report being engaged. To address this issue, asset-based systems cultivate student agency and voice.

The Definition

Student agency refers to high-interest, meaningful, student-led learning, including guidance from teachers. Student choice is key to building agency and voice.

In order for educators to really value our experience as a Black learner, they have to learn how to value our experience as Black people first.
- San Diego County student


  • Create intentional, systemic, and ongoing spaces to listen to students
  • Develop and cultivate healthy feedback loops between students and adults that validate student experiences
  • Hold high expectations and provide multiple entry points for students to enroll in rigorous coursework (UC/CSU "a-g," International Baccalaureate, and Advanced Placement)
  • Ensure the smallest student populations have supports and resources, even if they do not appear on state data for the school or district
  • Increase understanding and honor the identities and cultures of students, including youth culture
  • Create intentional and ongoing opportunities to connect across different cultures to better recognize and appreciate differences but also connectedness
  • Design ongoing, active engagement to study, analyze, and discuss policies and structures (e.g., dress codes and restrictions on cultural regalia, mascots, logos, etc.)

It's not about remembering history; it's about acknowledging it.
- San Diego County student

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