10 Ways to Increase Graduation Rates

Dec 13, 2023
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According to recent data, the national high school graduation rate has dipped since the COVID-19 pandemic first disrupted education in March of 2020. Statistics from 26 states reported in an article published January, 24, 2022, for Chalkbeat show that graduation rates have dropped in at least 20 states since the first full year of the pandemic. While it's unlikely we'll know the full scale of how the pandemic has impacted graduation rates until more data is available, after years of steadily rising numbers, it's hard to see any interruption to progress.

Helping students reach the end of their high school journey requires a lot of time, effort, and motivation to finish strong. Once students graduate from high school, the foundation is set for them to move on to college, careers, or another life path full of success.

Here are 10 tips to increase your school’s graduation rates and help your students reach their full potential.

1. Use Technology to Motivate Students

In today’s education landscape, keeping students motivated is key. Luckily, with the help of technology, there are multiple ways to deliver material to students. Technology provides opportunities to meet students where they are in their learning. When students feel that they are learning, they’re motivated to move forward. Boosting your students’ confidence and self-esteem in the classroom is key to keeping them motivated and engaged in their learning.

2. Differentiate Your Instruction

Some of the best ways to keep your students engaged are by diversifying activities in the classroom and allowing students to home in on their favorite ways to showcase their learning. Augmented reality (AR) apps are a great way to engage your students in in an out-of-the-box and unique way.

3. Use Standards-Based Assessments for Benchmarking

Using online standards-based assessments to benchmark your students helps you to get a clear picture of where your entire class is in their learning and comprehension. By administering these assessments throughout the school year, you’re able to pinpoint exactly where your students are struggling and focus your curriculum and lessons there. When students have the ability to look back at their assessment data from the year, they can see their progress and growth. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when administering your next assessment.

4. Personalize Student Learning

Ready students with the tools they need to be global citizens by personalizing learning. Personalized learning gives students the chance to get to know their learning styles and take ownership of their coursework. When students are on pathways that are relevant and meaningful to their interests, they are more likely to feel as though they are co-designers of their curriculum and environment. Personalized learning plans (PLPs) are powerful tools that can be used to nurture your students’ growth and development.

5. Consider Virtual Options

When taking personalized learning into consideration, you can always take it one step further by offering online credit recovery. Online learning offers opportunities for students to remediate or accelerate their learning. Having a program that is flexible and designed to fit the needs of all your students is key to success.

6. Host Tutoring Sessions

Students are often in an asynchronous environment, making online learning difficult, especially for students who are working to catch up on credits in order to graduate on time. This is why support through one-on-one instruction provides opportunity for learners to gain clarity where they are struggling and confidence in their schoolwork. Building a solid foundation in your online program can offer the tutoring support your students need to succeed.

7. Build Connections with the Community

Building a sense of connection to one’s community, both inside and outside of the classroom, is an important way for students to feel a sense of belonging. Providing opportunities for volunteering and giving back to your local community is a great way to get students involved in the issues that matter most. Check out these tips for nurturing your school community.

8. Engage with Parents

Family engagement is a critical piece to ensure that students have the support they need as they work toward graduation. By welcoming families into schools and making sure that there is effective communication, you’re allowing parents to be advocates for their children, which protects and promotes their successes. Here are nine tips to make sure that parent-teacher communication is successful and productive.

9. Create a Safe and Secure Learning Environment

Students need to feel safe and secure. They need to know that they can freely speak their minds in the classroom without fear of bullying, intimidation, and terrorism. This will allow students to gain the confidence to nurture curiosity and empower them as they grow to find school a positive environment that they want to come back to. Building a sense of community inside the classroom is a great place to start.

10. Start a Mentorship Program

As we’ve mentioned, connections and feeling safe are so important to students as they work toward their education. Mentoring is a great way to take things one step further. When students know they are accountable to themselves and have one person looking out for them, they feel special and important. Mentorship programs are often a great way for students to build relationships with community role models, explore career paths, and even volunteer.

Students need to feel a sense of security, significance, and purpose in their lives. With these 10 items, you can create a culture within your school or classroom that hits these fundamental needs for learning.

Interested else you can support your students on their path to graduation? Check out our blog on how to quickly get students back on track with minimesters!

This post was originally published August 2019 by Brita Hammer and has been updated.

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