Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Education (Ph.D)


Administrative and Instructional Leadership

First Advisor

Stephen Kotok

Second Advisor

Catherine DiMartino

Third Advisor

Anthony Annunziato


The education system is under increased scrutiny, imposed accountability, and transparency while school leaders are expected to seek input from a range of external stakeholders including parents, community officials, organizations, politicians, and businesses to improve schools and increase student achievement (Fullan, 2000). Unfortunately, there is a wealth of untapped insight from key stakeholders and educational beneficiaries, students, who are excluded from sharing their perspectives and ideas in determining school policy and practice (Zion, 2009). Due to their positional lens and unique perspective, designating students as authentic stakeholders so that they have space to participate in the democratic decision-making of educational reform requires systemic changes in the school organization, beginning with the superintendent's influence as a change agent. The specific problem is the lack of space in the educational organization for students to be included in the decision-making process in their education. Past research discusses the positive outcomes of students partnering with teachers to identify and improve relevant issues in their school. These initiatives based on student voice have been linked to increased student achievement. My research focused on interpreting students' descriptions of their school experiences through with a focus on participation in decision making against a framework of student voice participation and relating it to the superintendent's role as a change agent. This study examined one case in the summer after the completion of an academic year. This case study reflected the perception of student voice in one suburban school district. The purpose of this design was to describe the uniqueness of each representative role, while still allowing for analysis of themes across all data. This researcher looked at the implications and challenges the superintendent faced when including students as active participants in the democratic decision-making process of education. The findings used in this study may guide future superintendent groups to study the benefits and challenges of including students as stakeholders in education to develop active citizenship skills, to include students in participatory decision-making within the school organization and empower students.