How can we fit RSVP into the school day?

The RSVP summits can be completed within six weeks and require as little as 2.5 hours of school time over that entire period. RSVP is designed to be flexible enough to fit any school schedule. Some schools have used social studies/civics periods, advisory or homeroom periods, assembly time or other models. The first and second summits require the most amount of focused time (approximately 35-45 minutes), but summit 3 can be accomplished in approximately 30 minutes. If your school absolutely cannot offer assembly or other time that is best suited to achieving results with this educational program you may wish to look at other summit models. These are recommended only as a “last resort.”

How can I order RSVP implementation guides?

RSVP implementation guides can be ordered from the online National Student Council Store, National Honor Society Store, and National Junior Honor Society Store. Guides can also be ordered by calling the NASSP Sales office at 1-866-647-7253 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (ET), Monday through Friday.

What is the principal’s role in RSVP?

Involvement and support of the school principal is crucial to RSVP’s success in your school. This does not mean that she or he is leading or directing the project—this is truly intended to be a student-led effort. It means the principal can help influence and guide the process in a way that is consistent with the goals of the project and mission of the school.

A key role of the principal is to get buy-in from the faculty for the project. This is especially important because it will be necessary to spend class time on the RSVP process. However, the overriding concern of developing active citizens who take part in civic affairs can justify the class time spent.

RSVP can meet other curricular objectives as well. Principals will not control the exact outcomes of the Civic Action Plan, but they can be an important resource for students organizing for school and community change. This is why it’s important for the principal to schedule regular check-ins with the RSVP Leadership Team to hear how the process is working and learn about any potential issues he or she may want to address prior to the presentation of the civic action plan. It’s likely that an issue may arise early in the summit process, sparking more immediate action by the principal. By responding to or taking action on an issue early in the process, principals can demonstrate to students their willingness to listen and engage as partners in school improvement.

Another key role for principals is to sustain the support of local policymakers and community leaders. This includes frequent contact with the superintendent and school board to include them in the process. Presentations by participating students could be made to the school board. The school’s PTA/PTO and parents at large should be kept closely informed as well. Parents should be brought into the process very early on, as their involvement can assist in the implementation of long-term recommendations. Principals can also recruit local government officials and other community leaders, inviting them to visit with and serve as consultants to the students leading the project. RSVP cannot succeed in your school without support and encouragement from the principal.

What is the RSVP adviser’s role?

The role of the student council adviser is vitally important and multifaceted. The student council adviser (or another designated faculty member) oversees all of RSVP’s processes and products and serves as the primary point of contact in the school. Since the project is student-focused and driven, it is also important that this individual be prepared to guide the work, not direct it. She or he is wonderfully positioned to ensure that the process gives students both the confidence and skills to develop effective decision-making. The RSVP adviser is also in the best position to keep the rest of the faculty informed about the project, arrange the necessary space and time for student summits, and request and arrange any release time required by other faculty members involved in the project.

The student council adviser may want to consider finding another faculty member to work with the student Leadership Team and oversee the RSVP process. The time commitment required for RSVP may be too great considering other projects the council may already be undertaking. The RSVP process represents an excellent opportunity for already busy student council advisers to engage other faculty members in the work of the student council—perhaps a government or social studies teacher would be interested in RSVP as a practicum for civic education and be willing to serve as the RSVP adviser. The student council or RSVP adviser’s responsibilities include:

  • Helping familiarize the school community with the resources, training, and information received there
  • Working with the RSVP Leadership Team to launch the program and introduce it to the school and community
  • Guiding the work of the school’s RSVP Leadership Team
  • Assisting students on the RSVP Leadership Team with the student facilitator training
  • Making sure regular progress updates are submitted to the national NASC staff
  • Organizing—with the RSVP Leadership Team—the presentation of the civic action plan and any end-of-year celebration conducted in the school.

The student council or RSVP adviser is also the individual who sets the tone for youth-adult partnerships at the heart of this initiative. As the primary contact for students and school staff, the RSVP adviser is in an ideal position to encourage supportive and nurturing relationships among all project participants. The adviser will be the person most able to ensure the contributions of all students, not just a subset of student council or some other segment of the student body. To provide additional coaching, it is recommended that the adviser recruit at least one other adult to serve on the RSVP Leadership Team .

Who administers the RSVP program?

RSVP is administered by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), established in 1916, and National Student Council, established in 1931. NASSP and NASC support the program because the nation’s principals understand that RSVP can have a profound impact on student engagement and the culture of the school.

How many students should be involved in RSVP?

Every student in your school should be involved in the summits.

How does RSVP support civic learning?

RSVP supports many areas of student learning including the specific academic areas of civics and/or social studies as well as supporting critical student activities and student leadership programs (e.g., student council and other student leadership organizations).

In addition, RSVP can support other learning efforts within your school such as the service learning curriculum, presentation skills, project organization and development skills, and others. RSVP has its foundations in research and recommended practices for civic engagement of students.

The Civic Mission of Schools, a joint project of the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement and Carnegie Corporation of New York, identifies six proven practices that should guide civic education, including:

  • Schools should encourage student participation in school governance.
  • Effective student governments serve a number of important purposes in our schools. They are laboratories in which students can learn and practice essential citizenship skills, respect for human dignity, and the value of the democratic process. They provide students with effective forums for advocating new ideas and initiating school improvements.
  • Effective student governments also provide a platform for the orderly expression of conflicting viewpoints and procedures for resolving conflicts when students disagree with policies and decisions that affect their lives.

The National Council on Social Studies has set forth guiding principles for student councils that reflect the responsibility of student council to take the lead in student voice.

  • All students should be participants in the governance of their school community.
  • Students participating in student government should be advocates for the ideals and interests of students first and foremost.
  • Students participating in student government should work for the common good of the school community.
  • Students participating in student government should serve as members of substantive decision-making bodies at the school and at other levels of the school community where students’ interests are at stake.
  • Students participating in student government should have regularly scheduled opportunities to communicate with and seek input from their fellow classmates.
  • School administrators should work with and support student government.