Student Engagement and Governance

  • Every Boston public middle and high school (including district schools, exam schools, and all alternative, pilot, and in-district charter schools) must have a written student engagement policy documenting opportunities for students to assume leadership roles within classrooms and the broader school community, as stated in the BPS 7 Essentials of Whole School Improvement. The student engagement policy should be part of each school's Family Engagement Plan.  As part of this policy, each high school must also have a functioning and engaged student government. Middle schools are encouraged to have a student government. Student leaders in this body will represent their peers by serving as advisors, researchers, and participants in the decision-making process at the school and district levels. Student government serves to engage students in learning about democracy and leadership. The student government should reflect the diversity of the students in the school in terms of race/ethnicity, gender, grade level, educational program (e.g., general, special, and bilingual education), and other factors. The number of participants depends on the size of the school. The recommendation is 10-15 students. 

    The principal/headmaster, with student input, should appoint one or more faculty advisors to oversee each student government. Every headmaster is responsible for ensuring that the student government is established at their school. See Student Government Circular FAM-03.

    The Boston Student Advisory Council (BSAC) is a citywide body of student leaders representing their respective high schools. BSAC is the primary vehicle for youth engagement in the BPS and serves as the voice of students to the Boston School Committee. BSAC representatives offer perspectives on school reform efforts and inform their respective schools about relevant citywide school issues. BSAC also ensures that students are included in the decision and policy-making that impacts their lives and educational experiences. See Superintendent’s Circular FAM-06.

    BPS students have many rights and responsibilities in addition to those described in this guide. The BPS Code of Conduct includes a complete list. Learn about student rights and responsibilities at

    The Greater Boston Student Advisory Council is one of five operating councils that makes up the Student Advisory Council network for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.  Secondary school principals play a key role by encouraging student participation and overseeing the election of two student representatives from each secondary school to serve on the appropriate Regional Student Advisory Council each year.

    Massachusetts can take pride in being one of a handful of states with full voting rights for a student on the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) and the only state where the student Board member is elected by his/her peers. Mass. General Laws Chapter 15, Section 1E provides for voting student representation on the Board through a state Student Advisory Council.  The Student Advisory Council has a distinguished history in representing secondary school students in the Commonwealth and provides opportunities for students to learn and grow while demonstrating their individual leadership qualities.

    ⇒ For more information, Student Engagement Manager, 617-635-9446

7 Essentials of Whole School Improvement

  • The Core Essential – Effective Instruction

    Use effective and culturally relevant instructional practices and create a collaborative school climate that improves student learning, promotes student engagement, and builds on prior knowledge and experiences.

    Essential 2 – Student Work & Data

    Examine student work and data to drive instruction and professional development.

    Essential 3 – Professional Development

    Invest in professional development to improve instruction.

    Essential 4 – Shared Leadership

    Share leadership to sustain instructional improvement.

    Essential 5 – Resources

    Focus resources to support instructional improvement and improved student learning.

    Essential 6 – Families & Community

    Partner with families and the community to support student learning and engagement.

    Essential 7 – Operational Excellence

    Maintain high levels of effectiveness, efficiency, and equity in operations.