In an effort to put a stop to the high number of students leaving high school before they graduate, a new report looks into the use of blended learning as a way to engage these students and better meet their needs as a pathway to higher education and the workforce.
Completed by the Center for Promise, the report, “Blended Learning Offers Promise as a Strategy for Re-engaging Students,” states that close to 485,000 students leave high school each year before they reach graduation. Those students not only have a lower probability of finding employment, are more inclined to have poorer health and shorter life expectancies, and are more likely to become involved in criminal activity, but there are also social and economic implications including lost tax revenue, a higher use of social services, and disenfranchisement.
While there are expected to be 68 million jobs in the United States that require postsecondary education by 2020, there are currently close to 5 million jobs being left unfilled because employers say they cannot find someone skilled enough to fill them.
According to a recent estimate, the report states there are currently close to 6 million youth between the ages of 16 and 24 that are neither in school or employed.
The report shows a number of reasons why students are likely to leave school before graduation. Included in that list are issues with academics, family or other personal obligations, school environments in which they do not receive the help they need, and holding the idea that an education is unnecessary for their future lives.
The most common complaint among those that leave high school early is that the traditional high school model did not work for them.
The report suggests that blended learning, an education program combining in-person learning with online or other virtual instruction and support, would greatly benefit these students. The authors state that while blended learning comes in many forms, the main goal of it is to use technology to enhance and expand learning in order to create a student-centered learning environment, which is tailored to the needs of the individual student.
The authors continue to say that blended learning is currently being used as a way to re-engage students through online credit recovery, which is typically performed alongside face-to-face instruction. They say the most effective model uses both online and in-person adults who can help to keep students on the right track and offer assistance with all issues, both academic and non-school-related.
Report findings suggest that the blended learning model works best when they are aligned with the needs of the individual students. The authors suggest customizing online learning to suit the various learning styles, including text, video, or applied practice.
They say that such a method should offer students control over the time, place, and pace of instruction. They suggest that many re-engaging youth have responsibilities outside of school that do not allow for them to sit in a classroom between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. every day. Blended learning models exist that offer flexible scheduling which offer students the ability to learn on their own time, with regular check-ins with instructors.
The report suggests that additional research is needed in order to better understand how well it prepares students for success after high school when transitioning to postsecondary education, training, or employment.