Getting Students Engaged in Learning
Before COVID, 40 to 60 percent of students were showing signs of disengagement in learning, according to national surveys. The signs included lack of participation and effort, acting out and disrupting class, disaffection and withdrawal, and reliance on superficial learning strategies that do not lead to deep learning.1 The pandemic exacerbated students’ disengagement, especially among the most vulnerable youth. In a November 2020 survey by EdWeek Research Center, over 80 percent of teachers said that student motivation and engagement had declined since the pandemic.
The better news is that an explosion of research, policy, and practitioner work has led to greater understanding of student engagement and has uncovered practices that get students actively engaged in the classroom.8 By adopting them, schools can help all students develop the skills, competencies, and values they need to graduate and transition to adulthood. Students can thus avoid a host of problems related to disengagement: low achievement, high dropout rates, alienation, and lack of motivation. And state policymakers can create the policy environment that makes engaged classrooms a reality for all students.
Also In this Issue
Targeted interventions and savvy classroom practices, coupled with supportive state policy, can draw disengaged students back in.
High schools are creating student success teams that prioritize relationships and leverage actionable data to reconnect students to school.
Connecticut's experience underscores the value of a positive, systemic approach to improving attendance.
Families need better data on students' academic progress; students need meaningful learning experiences and better information on postsecondary options.
When built around four key elements, academies deliver rigorous, relevant learning tied to students' career aspirations.
State leaders can ensure that more school staff are equipped to help children deal with the effects of trauma.