The Ladder of Student Involvement in School

Simply calling something “meaningful” doesn’t make it so. Just like saying that schools are complex is an understatement, saying that student involvement is to complex is overtly simplistic. According to the following “Ladder of Student Involvement in School,” many student roles may actually be non-involvement. But there is hope.
Educators and students can use apply this tool to the everyday involvement of students by using it to identify how schools currently engage students in their classes, programs, and other leadership opportunities. The Ladder can also encourage individuals and schools to aspire to higher levels by presenting the possibilities of meaningful student involvement.

The Ladder of Student Involvement in School was adapted from the work of Roger Hart, an international expert on children’s participation. By mapping situations and activities that involve students on the rungs of the Ladder, schools can assess their levels of meaningful student involvement. The higher the rung on the Ladder, the greater the meaningfulness of student involvement. This guide seeks to help schools reach higher rungs – that is, increase the amount and improve the quality of student participation in schools. Note that the rungs on this Ladder aren’t necessarily a developmental process that happens over finite increments. Student involvement can go from the second rung directly to the sixth. The Ladder is meant to represent possibilities, not predictions, for growth.

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