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Lower Merion School District


Student-Driven Schools

LMSD students engage in navigating their own learning and growth in close partnership with our professionals. We create an environment where students value self-reflection and inquiry and play a central role in identifying their passions and achieving their goals. We nurture and celebrate the individual strengths of our students and help them to develop competencies that ensure their success beyond the LMSD experience.

What is the big idea?

We will adjust our system from one characterized by heavily-prescribed requirements to one that affords more self-directed goal setting and positive risk taking within safe learning environments across the K-12 continuum.

Why do we need to do this?

Students must be active agents in the learning process in developmentally-appropriate ways. The research is clear: when students are intrinsically-motivated, they are more likely to persevere in the face of challenges; their growth will be more lasting and they are more likely to transfer learned competencies to novel contexts. We seek to ensure that each student is fully engaged in personal goal setting and reflection in developmentally appropriate ways throughout their learning journeys. We must commit to shaping classroom cultures that make it safe for students to make themselves vulnerable to one another and to be receptive to feedback from teachers and peers. We must commit to providing the space for students to find personally meaningful purpose and to develop a genuine sense of agency. Doing so will require our district to be forward-thinking enough to shift the locus of control where appropriate in order to prepare our students for the future.

How will we do this?

  • Foster a growth mindset at every level
  • Develop a protocol for student goal-setting and self-reflection
  • Provide students with developmentally-appropriate opportunities to pursue differentiated areas of interest within the structured framework of a given lesson or subject
  • Provide opportunities for more student voices to be heard across the District (School Board) and in the classroom
  • Expand enrichment opportunities for students to pursue curricular interests (summer institutes [e.g. Write On creative writing])
  • Create schedules that increase opportunities for students to be flexibly grouped
  • Provide professional learning opportunities

How will we measure progress?

  • Protocols to measure students' self-reflection, self-confidence, resilience, and progress toward personal goals
  • Student surveys and exit interviews at each level
  • Opportunities for student voices to be heard
  • Opportunities for students to pursue personal interests
  • A system of schedule review to determine how to flexibly group students
  • Evaluations of professional learning

Who will be responsible?

Superintendent and Superintendent's designees

How will we know we have moved the District forward?

  • Strong student self-reflection, self-confidence, and resilience
  • Strong student satisfaction and outcomes
  • Variety of valued and celebrated student post-graduate pathways (e.g. college, work and travel)



"I regularly utilize socratic seminars to increase student voice in the learning process… Students create their own discussion questions about essential learning and then direct seminars to help deepen their learning."

-History Teacher, High School

"Student voice is important at WV. As part of the FORUM committee, we gather students' yearly feedback and input to improve our teaching and lesson planning."

-Reading Teacher, Middle School

"When students are provided opportunities to have choice, give feedback, self-evaluate and conference with their teacher, they recognize the importance of their voice to the whole learning process."

-Grade 5 Teacher, Elementary School

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