School Connectedness and Meaningful Student Involvement

I was recently reminded of a conversation that’s been raging in schools for a decade regarding connectedness. For a long the time the relationship between students feeling connected to their learning experiences and their success in schools was simply assumed to be obvious. However, with the research wars of the 2000s, this simple assumption had to be quantified, and in turn, prescribed and programmatized. In 2007 my work was the beneficiary of some of these efforts when the US Department of Education used my work on Meaningful Student Involvement as the basis for a publication called School Connectedness and Meaningful Student Participation. It was nice to see my concepts validated that way.

However, today when I went to ed.gov to find the citation the changing landscape of the Department was shown to me, as all of the resources ED had regarding safe and supportive learning environments were taken offline, and the links to that topic were sent to SAMSHA. Connectedness was defined by ED as “the belief by students that adults in the school care about their learning and about them as individuals.” While I could argue the ill-placed basis of this definition, I think it’s more important to stay on point: Connectedness needs to be at the core of the academic experience for all students.

My Frameworks for Meaningful Student Involvement provide a clear avenue for schools to create a clear pathway towards connectedness for all students by re-envisioning the roles of all students throughout the education system. There is no greater calling for schools today.

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