Youth Participatory Evaluation Team
The Youth Participation Evaluation Team, YPE, is a group of students who learn data collection techniques that they then apply to South. They share their gathered information with staff and parents, according to Equity and Diversity Coordinator Alex Endeshaw. YPE has been going on here at South for four years and this is Endeshaw’s second year participating in it.
YPE is at other middle schools and at high schools as well. Schools have to be in the Minneapolis Public School district in order to participate. Endeshaw and South Dean Kary Kuenzli are the only staff at South that facilitate it currently. Kuenzli is a dean here at South and has experience with YPE from when she worked at Washburn High school for a year. Kuenzli is busy with staff organization with the school and students so currently, she is taking a more behind the scenes role with YPE till she gets all that sorted out.
YPE has become a new thing over the past few years and is a program pushed by the government, which is why Minneapolis Public Schools are heavily encouraged to have it in the district. YPE’s data has been improving in quantity, so more people are answering the survey every year.
Two years ago YPE worked to put in a new teacher orientation for South teachers. This change has been based on the results YPE got from their data. YPE hopes to affect students positively with these changes. The survey is a voice to speak up and against things the student body feels strong about. They are trying to switch up traditional educational systems that hurt students, particularly students of color.
Kuenzli said: “YPE is a great program for staff and students gives them a voice to speak up and not be afraid. Students pick a project and research questions, How they want the school to change its ways or rules.”
“They also design a survey for people to answer so they can know a little bit about interviewing. They collect data about how students, staff, and teachers feel about the school. They go over the data and usually present it to groups here at the school,” she said.
Kuenzli continued: “The effect of YPE is to make students feel heard by others. Students usually pick issues about what is bothering them in the school, something that they disagree about. They try to make changes by the best of their abilities to make the school better.”
The report YPE produced has found that “39% of students indicated they had 2 or less trusting adults at South.” The survey of over 1,100 students and 100 staff found particularly students of color did not have an adult in the building they felt they could trust. YPE suggests that the school hires more teachers of color and host in-school events include disadvantaged students.
Sophomore Maurice Verser, a member of YPE said, “YPE is a great place to release stress, pain, and anger [at the education system].”
Verser said, “[YPE helps] mostly to express feelings and to do homework and check around and meet new people, so it’s a great place to be.”
Verser joined when his friend Jawon Bradley told him about what YPE was and how it could help with school work, projects, making friends, anger management, and to make you more successful in school. YPE also works to put students in class more and to participate in school events, making them feel more comfortable with everybody. Verser has been in YPE for a year and through the group, he has set the goal to graduate, by staying on top of his schoolwork.
YPE holds meetings bi-monthly from 3:30-4:15 p.m.