Elevating Student, Family, and Educator Voice in Research
Another key theme relating to the process of research was the need for case studies that emphasize student, parent, and educator voice. Overall, we hope to create a participatory action research agenda that is transformative, longitudinal, and based on trust. By centering the voices of grassroots stakeholders, research can lift up the ways that community schools are a democratic strategy. Community-based participatory research methods are a tool to achieve both research outcomes (e.g. generalizable knowledge) and action (community change). Youth voice, including middle and high school students, should be a priority. We should consider accountability to the community of stakeholders impacted — how are community schools impacting their lives from their perspective? This again calls for a more participatory methodology and could merit developing guiding principles for those engaging in such research with communities. The American Evaluation Association (AEA) has guiding principles for evaluation and collaboration that could provide an example. Essentially, we would like to reflect on whose voice is at the table. Engagement should be authentic, and voices should be genuinely heard and not just present. Researchers should cultivate diverse perspectives, and researchers themselves should come from diverse backgrounds representative of the communities they serve, including people of color. Lastly, research should contribute back to communities and build capacity. How do we create research-practitioner partnerships that are truly collaborative, instead of simply favoring research-outcomes? How can we support and build capacity in schools in conducting their own research and evaluation to answer their most pressing questions, either through tools, networks, or direct support?