National Council of Excellence

Student Councils are an integral and essential part of strong schools. NatStuCo is the national organization that represents student voice and student councils in secondary school settings. The National Council of Excellence recognizes and celebrates middle level and high schools that support and demonstrate highly effective student councils meeting high standards and evidence of student service, leadership, voice, and engagement.

The National Council of Excellence distinction affirms the commitment of the school leadership to establishing a positive school climate and culture, as well as fostering academic and social growth of all students. The distinction signals to the school, surrounding community, and stakeholders the value the school leadership places on student voice.

Secondary schools that earn the distinction and honor of having a National Council of Excellence demonstrate their merits through an annual application process. The application allows advisers, student leaders, and school leaders to demonstrate outcomes based on a framework of indicators and criteria. The national indicators and criteria reflect more than 90 years of expertise in student council and leadership programming.

Because student bodies and council members change regularly, student councils must apply annually to earn the National Council of Excellence distinction.

There are two levels of recognition: A student council achieves a National Council of Excellence Award when it has demonstrated that it meets all the National Student Council requirements, and the National Gold Council of Excellence award is awarded to those councils that demonstrate the highest levels of leadership as well as meet additional standards as set by NatStuCo.

Applications for the 2022 NCOE Award, representing council activities and projects from January 1 to December 31, 2021 are closed. The deadline for the application is February 15, 2022.


Student councils that earn a National Council of Excellence Award receive:

  • A National Council of Excellence certificate proclaiming their achievement
  • An official letter from National Student Council recognizing and congratulating student leaders and the school
  • A press release that can be customized for local news media
  • Inclusion of their school name in the winners’ list published on the National Student Council website
  • Recognition during the National Student Council Conference—winning schools are displayed during the conference and delegates from winning schools will receive official National Council of Excellence ribbons
  • Eligibility to purchase special recognition items designed specifically for National Council of Excellence award winners
  • A special National Council of Excellence winners’ seal in JPG format for placement on school websites and in electronic or print communications