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.

Getting Students Engaged in Learning

Also In this Issue

Getting Students Engaged in Learning

By Jennifer A. Fredricks

Targeted interventions and savvy classroom practices, coupled with supportive state policy, can draw disengaged students back in.

Centering School Connectedness

By Robert Balfanz

High schools are creating student success teams that prioritize relationships and leverage actionable data to reconnect students to school.

Chronic Absence: A Call for Deeper Student and Family Engagement

By Hedy Chang

Connecticut's experience underscores the value of a positive, systemic approach to improving attendance.

Understanding Who Is Missing and Why

By Hailly T.N. Korman

The pandemic only magnified chronic absence among students with the greatest needs and made the problem harder to ignore.

How State Leaders Can Stand Up for the COVID Generation of High Schoolers

By Robin Lake and Travis Pillow

Families need better data on students' academic progress; students need meaningful learning experiences and better information on postsecondary options.

Reengaging High School Students through Career Academies

By Edward C. Fletcher Jr.

When built around four key elements, academies deliver rigorous, relevant learning tied to students' career aspirations.

Trauma-Informed Practices: A Whole-School Policy Framework

By Janet VanLone and Nicole Reddig

State leaders can ensure that more school staff are equipped to help children deal with the effects of trauma.

Featured Items

Multiracial group of teachers walking in school hallway. Image credit: iStock i

Strengthening the Principal Pipeline through State Leadership Academies

Missouri, Delaware, and North Carolina have developed evidence-based professional learning for current and prospective school leaders to increase their effectiveness and reduce turnover.
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State Advances in Early Childhood Education Seed Plans for 2024

In 2023, several states made significant strides toward universal pre-K, increased funding and support for early educators, and improved literacy and math instruction.
Business people sitting on books. Image credit: iStock i

Curriculum That Counts

Authors in this issue of the Standard draw lessons from a spectrum of state policies that are being used to increase the adoption of high-quality curriculum.

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