Raising Student Voice & Participation

What is RSVP?

Raising Student Voice & Participation (RSVP)

  • Student engagement program aligned with school reform
  • Easily integrated into existing student council programs
  • Student council leaders plan and facilitate a series of Student Summits that engage the entire student body in dialogues
  • Helps to assemble student action teams to carry out plans for resolving concerns identified in the summits
  • RSVP asks students what they care about, what proposals they have for community and school improvement, and what actions can be taken, in cooperation with adults, to implement their ideas for positive change.

Why Principals Support RSVP

  • Involves all students and student populations—specifically giving those students who are typically not involved an opportunity to share their voices and participate in civic-based activities.
  • Provides principals with a way to utilize the leadership of their student councils to engage students more and personalize their school experience.
  • Establishes a process and framework for developing and implementing student-directed projects.
  • Brings abstract learning to life: "Students who learn about democracy in social studies courses but who fail to see it practiced in the classroom or school are given the message that democracy is a lofty ideal, but it is not for the real world. What is needed then is an approach to citizenship education that will not only prepare students for democratic participation but help them to appreciate the value of democratic institutions." (Power 1993, p190)
  • Extends opportunities for leadership and involvement to non-elected students
  • Brings civic education and service learning to life for all students.

What are the goals of RSVP? 

  • To provide a forum for the many voices in our school
  • To increase student involvement by working on issues that really matter to students
  • To involve students in the school decision-making process
  • To make changes in our schools and communities—changes that students believe in
  • To increase student interest in civic issues and involvement

RSVP aims to identify student council as the primary vehicle for student voice and meaningful involvement. It is through student council-led initiatives that students are able to identify needs and address concerns in effective and productive ways, founded in educational values and supported by the principal and faculty.

Student leaders, advisers, principals, or other participating school members of RSVP are expected to integrate RSVP into their student council agendas—training other student leaders to plan and facilitate summits and involving others in the development and implementation of activities based on summit results.

RSVP gives student council leaders the training and resources to:

  • Reach out and engage all student populations in civic-based activities that support civic education curricula
  • Facilitate summits that will identify significant issues that students wish to address through dialogue, problem solving, and civic action
  • Extend leadership opportunities and positions to non-elected students on student council-led initiatives
  • Establish a process and framework for developing and implementing student-led action projects to address issues
  • Assist principals in identifying and recruiting non-elected students to serve on various school committees.