SSAC Takes on Digital Learning

What is SSAC? Just another mundane government acronym? Well, yes and no. SSAC is the State Student Advisory Council. It is a government council, but it’s far from mundane. SSAC is made up of over 60 peer-elected students from Massachusetts’s five regions: Southeast, Greater Boston, Northeast, Central, and Western. Altogether, this diverse group of high school students represents the entire student population in Massachusetts – a number around one million.

Furthermore, SSAC is unique in the United States. No other state has a student advisory council in which a student chairperson is elected by his or her peers to sit as a voting member of the state’s Board of Education. This year, Daniel Brogan from Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School was elected as chairperson.

As one of the Old Rochester Regional representatives at the Southeast Regional Student Advisory Council, I was elected to be one of the state delegates serving on SSAC. Last year, SSAC helped with the state’s new lunch nutrition plan and with implementing the state’s new teacher evaluation process, which now includes student feedback. This year, we decided to address Massachusetts’s slow advancement in digital learning.

Earlier this month, SSAC held its annual three-day leadership conference at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education in Malden, where the group also holds its bimonthly meetings throughout the school year. The conference was to prepare this year’s SSAC for the upcoming school year. There are a lot of discussions to have and decisions to be made before one can start improving the education of a million students.

Throughout the three-day conference, we did team building activities, discussed potential changes in our SSAC by-laws, and filled the room with educational energy. Most importantly, we discussed what kind of impacts we wished to make throughout the year, and how we could go about turning these wishes into tangible results.

We listened to five presentations on topics we could focus on as a council. We had a choice of digital learning, teacher evaluations, PARCC (the potential replacement to English and math MCAS), college and career readiness, or nutrition. After many questions and ensuing discussions, a vote was held to choose SSAC’s 2013-2014 priorities.

This year, SSAC will be focusing on digital learning throughout Massachusetts. We hope to provide research to the Office of Digital Learning on which schools are successful and which are struggling. We also plan to raise awareness of digital learning and technology use in the classroom.

After a successful conference, SSAC is excited to get to work once the school year begins. The first meeting will be held at the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on September 17.

By Renae Reints


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