Does Sociocracy Support Student Voice?
Student Perceptions of a Student Council Using Sociocracy in a Public School
Keywords:student voice, pupil voice, student council, decision-making, student participation
Previous research has suggested benefits of greater student involvement in school decision-making (i.e. student voice). These benefits may include improved academic outcomes, higher GPAs, fewer absences, and gained social skills. Despite these benefits, research has also indicated that many student council members express perceived limitations to their decision-making power. In this qualitative interview-based study, I explore how students at the New Roots Charter School in Ithaca, NY perceive their own student council, which uses sociocracy, a consent-based governance method. During interviews, six students provided specific examples of student-led changes in school policies. 9 of the 10 student council members expressed positive opinions of sociocracy as a governing method. Another 9 of the 10 cited participation in their sociocratic student council as positively impacting their personal growth, especially communication skills. I conclude that in a school with an administration that is ready to carry out changes based on student input, sociocracy supports the inclusion of all students in expressing student voice. From these results, I encourage more schools to consider using sociocratic processes in their student councils.