Traditional public schools must ensure continued success in order to compete for students against charter schools, online learning, and other forms of education. Dissatisfied students, parents, and even staff leave schools that need to work harder than ever to regain the confidence of staff and community. But what practices can public schools implement to increase retention and improve student outcomes?
In “The Public School in an Age of Choice: How to Compete for the Win,” Kevin Baird, chairman of the board at the nonprofit Center for College & Career Readiness, presented the issues traditional public schools currently face in retaining students and staff, as well as the solutions that can lead to higher retention and student success.
Challenge: Slow Improvements
According to Gallup, confidence in American public schools has been decreasing for over 30 years. Some of this decrease is because student improvements are not seen fast enough for the amount of money being spent.
Challenge: Expectations vs. Reality
There is also a gap between parent and student expectations and what the schools are actually providing. More parents reported that they want their child to be engaged at school, while educators reported that the main goal of public education is to prepare students academically.
Challenge: Teacher Turnover
However, it’s not only the parents and students that are leaving. Teacher turnover rates have increased due to factors like dissatisfaction with administration or workplace conditions.
To decrease student and staff turnover rate and increase confidence in traditional public schools, Baird says success starts in the classroom.
Schools must provide teachers with the support they need in order to keep engaged and experienced teachers, which means more than one day of PD for new school initiatives.
Students must also be offered more choice in their learning, or else they will move to another platform of schooling, like online education, where they can get that choice. [Read: “Superintendent: Gen Z achievement soaring with student choice.”] Students learn best when they are interested.
Baird commented, “Interest is the ultimate accelerator.” Students should have the opportunity to learn a topic using a variety of methods, while collaborating together and learning from one another as the teacher acts as a coach for the lessons.
With so many educational options, it is important to stand out by branding your school and classroom experience with the school’s methods. By creating this school culture and making it visible to everyone, things will persist even if there is turnover with those who created it, and the students are more likely to feel a part of something.
Last, learning environment is key. Uncomfortable environments that don’t allow for collaboration lead to little productivity. Schools need to consider the money that is being spent and the kinds of classroom environments that are formed as a result.
Baird concluded my emphasizing that learning is personal—not only for students, but for families. If traditional public schools want to compete, they must give all students the opportunity to study their interests in engaging and collaborative environments.
About the Presenter
Kevin Baird, chairman of the board of the Center for College and Career Readiness, is a co-author of the Pathway for College & Career Standards Implementation. For more than 20 years he has served schools, districts, state and national education offices as an expert in the use of technology to achieve college and career ready outcomes along with implementation of change models to drive sustainable, enhanced learning outcomes.
Baird is the creator of the Common Core Black Belt Certification Graduate Program accredited by the University of Southern California, Rossier School of Education, and serves as graduate faculty for numerous blended learning courses for school administrators. He has participated in educational research on every continent except Antarctica. Baird is a frequent keynote speaker and consultant working with some of the largest districts in the U.S. and with governments around the world. Follow him on Twitter @KevinEBaird.
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