While the success of any one dropout prevention program is dependent on many variables, research pinpoints a number of common elements that create an effective alternative education institution. Our team agrees with most of the key essential elements (more on that later), but based on our own research, we detected one important success factor in dropout prevention that has largely been ignored—the teacher.
Empowering Educators for Better Dropout Prevention
Empowering the educator is a huge step in changing the attitude of students in danger of dropping out. Why? Because for such a student to thrive in any setting, they must adopt the mindset that they are smart, have potential and can do well in school. This encouragement to thrive ultimately falls to the teacher.
An empowered educator, supported by proper professional development and effective Information and Communication Technology (ICT), can help change students’ mindsets whether they’re teaching a class with a 1:10 ratio or a class of 50.
How do we know? We’ve done it ourselves and have proven results in the reduction of dropout behavior and the passing of secondary or high school equivalency exams.
With the right educational approach and technological support, a class of 50 can actually become 50 classrooms. Suddenly, each student can follow a personalized learning path. They can engage with content that meets their specific needs, allowing them to learn, flourish and stay motivated.
What Makes an Effective Alternative Education Program?
Beyond giving teachers the support they need to be motivational leaders in the classroom, there are several key elements necessary for alternative education program success:
Personalized Support for Students
The overarching belief is that smaller class sizes provide for a more personalized relationship between students and instructors. Most theorize that a student/teacher ratio of 1:10 means a more supportive environment. Additionally, it’s believed that small class sizes automatically mean more flexibility in the breadth of each teacher’s role and a stronger sense of community within the classroom.
We disagree with the notion that a smaller classroom inherently means a more personalized environment. With a lack of resources, support and professional development opportunities, even 1:1 instruction hasn’t met expectations. Providing sufficient teacher training, along with the necessary tools can allow educators to facilitate personalized learning and become motivational leaders in their classrooms.
High Student Expectations
Educators expect their students to achieve, but they allow these expectations to remain flexible. This way, goals can adapt based on the student’s individual needs and unique learning style.
In an alternative education environment, students thrive on being measured on self-improvement. It’s important for at-risk students to see how far they’ve come instead of being judged strictly by test scores or how they compare to other students.
This goes back to the importance of changing students’ mindsets. If they are supported by an educator who allows them to realize their potential, they will improve with both mental and scholastic results.
The Use of Technology
As reported in “Lessons from Successful Alternative Education: A Guide for Secondary School Reform”, Levy states, “Technology allows the role of the teacher to change from the dispenser of information to a facilitator of learning who motivates, assists and guides students in a more learner efficient manner.”
We agree this is the case, if teachers have the resources and skills to maximize the use of technology to help students learn. In order to impact student achievement, educators need the time and resources to explore, network and learn best practices for the implementation of ICT in the classroom.
Flexibility in Schedule
Flexibility in education isn’t a new concept. In fact, it dates back as far as 1974. Smith et al. identified flexibility, as well as learning time, as important to at-risk student success in an alternative setting. Our research supports the same findings.
CuroGens Learning believes in establishing a low-stress and productive student-centered learning environment. By combining a professional development program that challenges the traditional educational paradigm with a unique Advanced Learning Information System (ALIS), educators can help every student succeed. To learn more about CuroGens Learning, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.