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Student Voice

Student Voice
The Instrument of Change

August 2014 | 216 pages | Corwin

Meaningful school reform starts with your most powerful partner—your students!

Students have plenty of opinions when it comes to school, and they’re not all about free ice cream in the cafeteria. When you take time to listen, you’ll find that students’ aspirations can drive your school toward exciting new goals. And when students know they’re being heard, they develop self-worth, engage meaningfully in their own academic success, and become purposeful in their educations.

This groundbreaking book presents a blueprint for enacting a successful partnership between educators and students. You’ll discover how to

  • Ask the right questions—and understand how to build from the answers you get
  • Engage students in decision-making and improvement-related processes
  • Implement the Aspirations Framework to guide students toward achieving their full potential

Filled with examples drawn from student surveys, focus groups, field observations, and interviews, this unique resource prepares you to lead with the sure knowledge that your students can and will want to join you.

“This book speaks to a movement that many people talk about but few act upon, Student Voice. Quaglia and Corso have lived their professional careers listening to students and acting on what they have heard. Now they share what it takes for education to truly become student-centered.”
—Raymond J. McNulty, Dean of the School of Education
Southern New Hampshire University

“Words cannot accurately capture my impression. It is simply the best education book I've ever read. I'm blown away by the quality, humility, simplicity and complexity, and call to action.”
—Robert Neu, Superintendent
Oklahoma City Public Schools

Introduction: It's Time to Listen
I. Listening
1. Student Aspirations
Dreaming and Doing

The Aspirations Profile

2. The Aspirations Framework
Guiding Principles
Conditions in Schools
Learning to Listen
II. Learning
3. Reality is Not the Enemy
Listening to Learn

Ignorance of Reality is the Enemy

Listening Broadly

4. Students Speak About Self-Worth
Condition 1: Belonging

Condition 2: Heroes

Condition 3: Sense of Accomplishment

5. Students Speak About Engagement
Condition 4: Fun & Excitement

Condition 5: Curiosity & Creativity

Condition 6: Spirit of Adventure

6. Students Speak About Purpose
Condition 7: Leadership & Responsibility

Condition 8: Confidence to Take Action

III. Leading
7. Students as Co-Leaders
The Current Cacophony

8. The Context of Leadership
Aspirations and the Whole Child

Aspirations and Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Aspirations as Curriculum

Aspirations in the 21st Century

9. From Student Voice to Our Choice

"Student voice is an often missed element of promoting a positive school climate, where students take ownership of their learning experience. This books sheds light on the importance of this topic and provides practical advice on how to let student voice take a central role in promoting learning at school."

Pablo Zoido, Analyst
Programme for International Student Assessment, Paris, France

"This book speaks to a movement that many people talk about but few act upon, Student Voice. Russell Quaglia and Michael Corso have lived their professional careers listening to students and acting on what they have heard. Now they share what it takes for education to truly become student-centered."

Raymond J. McNulty, Dean of the School of Education
Southern New Hampshire University

"I just finished reading Student Voice. Words cannot accurately capture my impression. It is simply the best education book I've ever read. I'm blown away by the quality, humility, simplicity and complexity, and call to action."

Robert Neu, Superintendent
Oklahoma City Public Schools

"Schools have long told students to have goals and aspirations. But when it comes down to it, test scores and Adequate Yearly Progress stand in the paths of schools and students. This book lays out clearly that what students desire and what states require do not have to be mutually exclusive. I can’t wait to share Student Voice with my colleagues."

Lisa Brewster-Cook, English Teacher
Somerville High School, Somerville, MA

"Students routinely achieving their full potential, high performing schools becoming the new normal – Student Voice makes the compelling case that we can’t get there from here without fundamentally changing the culture of schools to listen and act on what students say about their schools, their lives, and their aspirations. Refreshingly straightforward, this book provides a unique mix of profound truths and practical guidance for transforming education."

Anthony Jackson, Vice President for Education
Asia Society, New York, NY

"If you haven’t considered student voice, then this book is a must read with great ideas and insightful stories that should engage you further and might just influence your practice. If you’re already committed to student voice, then this book provides compelling evidence and vital structure that place student voice and aspirations front and center in education, a must-read aid to planning and implementation.


As we seek to increase schools’ relevance in an ever more rapidly changing world, this book outlines and details a model for the way forward. Quaglia and Corso combine evidence from students, guiding principles, and conditions for their implementation in schools, stories from practice and practical notes to assist reflection and development. Written in an accessible and easy-to-read style, they together form powerful positive guidance for teaching and learning, and for change in schools."

Gavin Dykes, Director
Cellcove Ltd., Surrey, UK

"Student Voice not only captures the urgency of our professional, societal, and moral imperatives to transform the educational system, but it also provides a thoughtful, thought-provoking, and well-researched framework for ensuring that all of our students can and will pursue and attain their aspirations. With moving stories and insights from students and teachers, heartfelt personal anecdotes, extensive analyses of data, and a deep understanding of the power of shared leadership, Dr. Quaglia and Dr. Corso have crafted a roadmap for the journey all of us as learners seek to travel—the road on which the voices of our students are the instruments of change in creating the future. Student Voice connects the dots of what too often seem to be disparate research about and facets of the elements of student achievement of academic, social, and personal aspirations and offers a comprehensive and coherent road to actualizing deep, meaningful, and sustainable change."

Beth Havens, Educational Consultant for Innovation and Special Projects
Horry County Schools, Conway, SC

"Student Voice is the result of many years of experience working with students and teachers around the world – and it shows. Drs. Quaglia and Corso have stuffed every nook and cranny of this book with practical ways to understand young people that are both sensible and profound. This is your go-to field guide for student aspirations."

Adam Ray, Pearson Foundation
Mill Valley, CA

"This book captures the essence of what has been missing in educational reform for the past several decades, in that it highlights the perspectives that matter most—the students’. Having witnessed the transformational potential of inculcating the Aspirations Framework into a school, “student voice” will forever serve as the lodestar in the development of curriculum, instruction, and policy in my professional practice. The Aspirations Framework opens the door to this new era in education; in fact, student voice is the “McLuhanian” medium that will transform education in the 21st century, only if we, educators and society as a whole, take the time to listen."

David E. Reilly, Assistant Superintendent
Sequoia Union High School District, Redwood City, CA

"Quaglia and Corso champion student voice in this beautiful and inspirational narrative. This book provides a career-changing framework for educators to listen, learn, and lead; driven by the most important voice of all. My personal Aspiration is now to dream and do more to elevate student voice. Student Voice is a MUST READ for every educator seeking to meaningfully impact the lives of students."

Dr. Lisa Kinnaman, Co-Director
Idaho Leads Project, Boise, ID
Key features

Part 1: Listening we present the Aspirations Framework that has emerged from listening to students.

In order to truly teach our students, we must be willing learn from them. Only they can tell us where they would like their journey to take them beyond school, and that is essential information if we are to do the important work of successfully inspiring and equipping them for what lies ahead. By inviting and encouraging their voices, and being open to what they have to say, educators create a community of collaborative learners.


In Part 2: Learning we share what we have come to understand about the principles and conditions that support students' aspirations, based on what students have told us about their experiences in school.


In Part 3: Leading,
we discuss how, given the present circumstances in education, we can move forward in partnership with students. Whatever the past (Open Class Room, Back to Basics, Ed Reform, etc.) or future (twenty-first century skills, online learning, flipped classrooms, blended instruction, etc.), we know we will not get there in our father's Oldsmobile! We need a hybrid, one that keeps the best of what has fueled effective education until now and combines it with the energy and enthusiasm of our students' hopes and dreams.

Sample Materials & Chapters



2016 School Voice Report

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