Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Mary Anne Bunda

Second Advisor

Dr. Uldis Smidchens

Third Advisor

Dr. Ronald Pollack

Fourth Advisor

Dr. William Banach


This study was designed to investigate the accuracy with which selected student leaders from 30 public high schools in Macomb County, Michigan, reflected the opinions of the general student population of high school seniors in the same county. Specifically, data were collected which would determine the advisability of implementing change suggested by the opinions of the student leaders.

Data were collected from 90 elected high school student leaders selected by faculty and administration to represent their schools on the Student Commission on Public Education (SCOPE), and a systematic random sample of 607 high school seniors using portions of the "Macomb Student Survey." Analyses by t tests by independent means showed no significant difference between the two groups in opinions about school, but significant differences in opinions about courses offered and values. Significant differences in the proportions of students from each group indicating future plans for college and full-time work were found using a normalized z. Chi Square analyses revealed significant differences in the proportional distribution of socioeconomic status, academic achievement, and gender.

Though student leaders have been chosen by their peers to represent them, and their opinions about school are similar, they formulate their opinions from a different perspective. They come from homes with a higher socioeconomic status than their average classmate, they make better grades, and they include proportionately more females. They are interested in a more expanded curriculum than are their average student counterparts, and they have more clearly formed ideas about values. Their opinions about future plans are almost exclusively those of the college-bound, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the majority of high school students.

Because of current challenges to public education caused by decreasing enrollment, declining resources, and technological innovation, the opinions of students are increasingly sought for suggestions about improving schools. Student advisory groups, such as the SCOPE population used in this study, are often comprised only of student leaders. The results of this study suggest that the advice of selected student leaders is not necessarily an accurate interpretation of student opinion.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access