Only half of all school-age children in the nation finished high school back in the 1970’s. Today three-fourths of students graduate.
Still, neither of these numbers are nearly good enough. In today’s world, based upon an information economy, an educated workforce is crucial to the success of our nation. That is one reason why many states have initiatives calling on schools to ensure a one hundred percent graduation rate.
Students generally do not drop out of school because they want to. There are not great opportunities for students who drop out. The incentives are not there. For most students, they drop out because school is not relevant to them and their lives. School is not meeting their needs. So school is not engaging them.
This has been a problem with public schools for generations. For years, public schools were the only game in town. Schools could afford to be arrogant and say things like, “Do it our way, or you won’t get our diploma.” If students had options, they could attend a parochial school or drop out.
The 1980’s began to change the system as open option enrollment came to be. Students had a choice. And suddenly schools had to concern themselves with customer service or lose their students to the neighboring systems. Then in the 1990’s home schooling became more accepted. Also charter schools emerged on the scene. Two more choices became available for the kids.
Now within the last decade, online schools provide yet another option. Although online schools may not offer the social experiences and the student interaction, they have rigorous course work. And many online schools personalize the education for each individual enrolled.
Public schools have been notoriously slow to understand competition and customer service, but now it has become a fundamental which schools can only disregard at their own peril of irrelevance.
The successful schools of the 21st Century will be those who understand customer service. They will understand the need to engage every learner and make every student successful.
For schools who plan to be a relevant and significant within their communities, they need to meet the needs of all their students and strive for that goal of one hundred percent graduation.