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Presenting survey results to Kentucky Board of Education

The COVID-19 crisis exposes and exacerbates pre-existing inequities in our education system that aren’t being reported enough. Through a mixed methods student-led research approach, we aim to shed light on the student experience of navigating the pandemic in order to translate it into informed policy and practice decisions to better support the most marginalized students in our school system. The project began with a youth-designed survey that generated nearly 13,000 responses from all of Kentucky’s 120 counties.

The focus of this week’s work was definitely framed around our presentation to the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) on 8/6/20. This is a presentation that our team has been working towards throughout the summer, and we wanted to showcase all the work our team has put in over these past couple of months. Throughout creating the presentation and the companion executive summary, our full team worked hard to draw out the narrative that we want to highlight from the data. This has been a tough task as there is so much information we want to share, but during this week we’ve honed in on creating a cohesive narrative from all of the data that is shareable with education stakeholders. During this process, we’ve been having insightful discussions about what meaningful data is, what we think different education stakeholder groups will want to know about from our data, and how to best present the data in a meaningful way.

Watch the presentation the team gave to the Kentucky Board of Education August 6 at the 4:48 minute mark at this link.

This week has been such an eventful week it’s hard to choose just one thing! Last week, each of the groups for the four survey themes (Education Environment, Home Life, Physical and Mental Wellness, and Future Plans) wrote out a one-page summary of their findings for that theme. This week we’ve worked to edit those drafts into a final executive summary that is cohesive across themes. We were able to share this executive summary during the KBE call all alongside our presentation (another exciting thing we were able to put together and present this week). Completing the presentation and the executive summary that we’ve been working towards was a huge step forward in sharing back the insightful data we have, and we’re excited to work to continue sharing the stories from the data. During this week we’ve also started to transition into the second phase of our project, the peer-to-peer interviews. Spearheaded by Sanaa, Laney, and Emmy alongside some wonderful adult researchers, we’ve gotten IRB approval for the interviews and have started training members of our team on interview protocol and best practices. We’re excited to see what this second phase will show us. A progress update would be incomplete without mentioning the wonderful work that our team has put in to create a report for one of the biggest education cooperatives in Kentucky, the Kentucky Education Development Corporation (KEDC), that was sent out this past week!

Our team continues to grow every day in our capacities and strengths, but this week especially I’ve noticed how wholeheartedly committed everybody in our team is to ensuring the success of this project. While creating the first district report of our data for Boone County Schools, our core team noticed an imbalance between the quantitative side of the project and the qualitative side both in how the data was presented on the report and within the process of creating the report itself. This week, in completing the KEDC report, I was struck by how our team has worked together to ensure an integration of the qualitative and quantitative work. We’ve been better about communicating in each realm and in inter-realm communication that has translated into the KEDC report being much more balanced in both the deliverable and the process. While we will always have room to grow in that space, our team’s ability to recognize what we didn’t accomplish with the Boone report and pivot to work toward ensuring that it was accomplished in the KEDC report really struck me as a unique form of growth.

This week there were a couple of obstacles that faced us. First, our KBE presentation really snuck up on us! We started off the week without anything but a title slide for the presentation, but we were able to pull from the wonderful people power of our team to get the presentation done! It was a daunting task, but with the commitment and collaboration of both our students and adult allies we were able to make it happen (even if it meant a late night call the day before the presentation)! A second obstacle we faced was pushback from KBE about the content of the presentation. When our slot at the August meeting was confirmed in the beginning of the summer, our team was under the impression that we were to present our findings from the study. A couple weeks ago, we found out that the board wanted us to spend most of our presentation time on what student voice is and why it’s important. Though that conversation is incredibly important, we were taken aback by this statement and the imposition placed on us about what we should discuss. A second pushback came the morning of the presentation itself, after we had sent the slide deck. We ended up framing the study in the context of an exemplar of meaningful student voice (which it most definitely is) and took the opportunity to share back our data with education stakeholders while also discussing the importance of student voice in the beginning of our presentation to give the context that the board desired.