The COVID-19 pandemic has made it painfully clear that we need to change how we deliver education to keep students learning. We quickly learned that the traditional factory style education that has been the status quo for decades doesn’t work for every student.
Preventing and recovering dropouts, then helping them graduate with life skills and job training must be a priority. It’s not only the right thing to do, but it makes good economic sense for the community. Studies show that high school graduates contribute more tax dollars, are more engaged citizens and consume fewer public services. Combining high school graduates with job skills training provides local businesses with the skilled workforce they desperately need.
The best way to serve students who face recurring challenges to their education is through a personalized learning model that is tailored to each individual’s needs. No matter the obstacle, each student can benefit from one-on-one attention, a flexible schedule, free tutoring, and job skills to build the confidence and proficiencies they need to enter the workforce.
The key to keeping these students engaged is by making alternative education delivery methods/models free and open to all students up to age 24, so we don’t leave behind the thousands of young people who have aged out of high school. Most importantly, high schools need to provide a diploma PLUS job skills training that starts in high school, so upon graduation, students can quickly earn good wages and/or continue their education. Students should have access to robust career technical education (CTE) programs in areas such as robotics, cybersecurity and the hybrid manufacturing/electronics known as mechatronics. Not only will graduates be on their way to a high-demand, high-paying career, but students enrolled in CTE pathways are more likely to perform better in all their classes.