MORE BSAC CAMPAIGNS & PROJECTS
All of BSAC's project and campaigns are chosen and led by young people. Below is a summary of current projects, but you can see the full list of accomplishments, including BSAC's advocacy and advising work. Download it here.
Student feedback & Teacher Evaluation
Based on the belief that as students are the ones in the classroom every day with their teachers, they have highly valuable insight into an educator’s performance, BSAC has worked to implement student feedback within classrooms for over eight years.
Students report that when given an opportunity to give feedback they feel more engaged, see an improvement in academic performance, and feel their assignments have more meaning. Both students and teachers have attested that when students are given the chance to provide feedback to their teachers, their relationships, as well as the climate in the classroom, improve and teachers are given a fair, qualitative review of how they’re doing and how they can do better. This insight is backed up by national research on student feedback in teacher evaluation.
In May 2010, the Boston School Committee passed BSAC’s “Student to Teacher Constructive Feedback Policy” mandating that all high school teachers administer the “Constructive Feedback Form” in their classrooms. In 2011, BSAC lobbied the Massachusetts Board of Education to pass a statewide mandate that all districts must include student feedback in teacher evaluations beginning in the 2013-2014 school year. Currently, local efforts are focused on encouraging schools and teachers to further embrace student feedback in their classrooms and give it weight in the overall evaluation of educators. BSAC currently leads a Student Feedback Working Group with the Boston Public Schools Office of Human Capital to monitor the tool and the process used to collect student feedback in Boston classrooms. BSAC has also worked with the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop a model survey and a set of best practices in implementing student feedback in teacher evaluations throughout the state.
With the generous support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, in 2013 Youth on Board began to build a broad-based movement across the country to promote student voice and strengthen student teacher relationships in the classroom in an effort to create supportive, equitable, and student-centered school environments. The campaign seeks to transform the way schools and districts view the voices and expertise of young people and their ability to contribute to improve the classroom experience and to support the movement for educational equity and social justice.
For more information on the national campaign for student feedback in teacher evaluation, check out Student Voice Matters.
BSAC joined the Youth Affordabili(T) Campaign (YAC) in 2011 to help in advocating for the Youth Way on the MBTA campaign. BSAC believes that every young person should have affordable access to the MBTA given that it serves as a major form of transportation for students and their families to travel to work and school. The goals of this campaign are to stop the MBTAs 100% fare hike proposals, proposed service cuts, place pressure on the state to fund MBTA, and create a $10 monthly youth pass. BSAC has participated in the biweekly Saturday YAC Coalition and planning meetings, sent letters to State legislators and School Committee representatives, rally and march at the State House, lobbied chairmen of MBTA and House speaker DeLeo, etc. YAC was successful in influencing MassDOT Board which approved MBTA fare hike proposal for a 23% increase, a reduction from the initially proposed 100% increase. In 2014, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Board of Directors voted to pilot a university/youth pass, allowing 1500 youth between the ages of 12 to 21 residing in Boston, Chelsea and Cambridge to purchase a monthly pass for $26 or a weekly pass for $7 beginning in July 2015.
During the 2014 search for a new superintendent of the Boston Public Schools BSAC, along with the Boston Educational Justice Alliance and Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation, developed a set of criteria for the new superintendent. Arguing that students are the main stakeholders the superintendent makes decisions for, they requested that the School Committee add a student representative to the Search Committee.
Although no student seat was added, the Search Committee adopted the majority of BSAC's criteria into their search process, promised BSAC the opportunity to interview the final three candidates, and integrated interview questions developed by BSAC into the interview script. BSAC hosted a youth forum that brought over 300 students, parents, and community members to share what they wanted from a new superintendent with the Search Committee; it was the most well-attended of all of the community forums in the search. At the forum, a student-created video about what students want in a superintendent was aired. BSAC members were part of a student and teacher interview panel for the final four candidates and served on Superindentendent Chang's transition team. BSAC is building strong relationships with the superintendent, his cabinet, and other dsitrict officials to ensure that student voice is heard, valued, and implemented.
The Mayor of Boston and BSAC elect a student to sit on the Boston Public School Committee and act as a representative for the 56,000 students in the district. However, the student member does not have a vote on any of the issues presented to the Committee, and merely plays an advisory role to the district. BSAC is pushing for two seats with full voting rights on the School Committee as students are the most important stakeholders in the education system and have essential perspectives on issues that adults might lack. It is fundamentally unfair that the student who sits on the Massachusetts Board of Education has full voting rights, while the district’s representative has none. BSAC is currently seeking to pass a home rule petition to change the law in Boston that prohibits the student representative from voting.
Health and Wellness
Driven by the belief that all students deserve a holistic education which includes issues of health and sexuality, BSAC is working with community groups and BPS to improve the quality of health education, in the district and across the state BSAC students lobbied State Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz around legislation that pushed for comprehensive health education in Massachusetts. While the bills did not make it out of committee, they made it further in the process than they ever have before. BSAC was also instrumental in editing the Boston Public Schools’ new health curriculum, dubbed the “Health Frameworks,” which has since been used to train teachers in the district. Since 201, members of BSAC serve on the Boston Public Schools DIstrict Health and Wellness Council helping to advise and implement policies that create healthier school environments and improve access to health and physical education.
In collaboration with the Youth Organizers United for the Now Generation (YOUNG) Coalition and the Boston Education Justice Alliance (BEJA), BSAC works to ensure fair and equitable access to education and resources within the City of Boston.
Extended Learning Opportunities
Youth on Board and BSAC are working with local foundations and BPS to create credit bearing opportunities outside of school hours. Participation in BSAC helps members build skills in public speaking, relationship building, problem solving, planning, and lobbying. These skills, which equip BSAC members for success in high school, postsecondary opportunities, and beyond, should be granted academic credit so that participants are properly recognized and admissions officers and employers better understand the skill sets BSAC members are bringing to the table. The first cohort of students to receive an academic credit for participating in BSAC with be the members of the 2015-2016 Working Group.
In collaboration with the BPS Department of Social Studies and several youth organizing groups in Boston, BSAC worked with 12th grade civics courses to support them in their development in school-based campagns around Student Rights and Responsibilities. Small groups in each classroom partnered with BSAC developed campaign plans that focused on raising awareness and completing Participatory Action Research projects. In addition to doing outreach, students conducted surveys, held focus groups, and interviewed administrators to come to a deper understanding of how student rights worked in their school.
Social Emotional Learning
BSAC hosted a National Conference for the Dignity in Schools Campaign, where members of the Dignity in Schools Campaign (teachers, students, parents and advocates) discussed the importance of Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in schools, as well as learned how to practice SEL. With funding from the NoVo Foundation, BSAC helped hold another convening for groups across the country working on student feedback in teacher evaluation could gather to discuss their SEL-centered approaches to the work. Currently, BSAC is being studied by the Susan Crown Exchange along with other organizations selected from around the country for their unique, SEL-centered program models.