District and school staff across the U.S. are always seeking ways to increase student engagement to ensure greater academic success.
If you’re looking to find meaningful ways to increase student engagement, we’ve come up with some resources and recommendations to inspire you and your teams during choice season.
What are the best practices for increasing student engagement?
While some elements of student engagement can be subjective, there are some qualities that you should always strive to achieve, including best practices and key concepts such as:
- Fostering a safe and secure environment where all contributions are valued.
- Digitally connecting administrators and educators with parents and students to develop multiple avenues of communication.
- Establish a culture that fosters engagement by providing opportunities for student leadership and creating a positive learning environment focused on collaboration and creativity.
- Building positive relationships between teachers, students, and families encourages open communication.
- Providing high-quality and varied curriculum keeps students motivated and interested in learning.
Now that we have several best practices in mind, let’s look at 5 winning strategies to increase student engagement during choice season.
1. Leverage Curriculum like STEM/STEAM, Career-Readiness, or Language Immersion Programs
Offering programs that showcase your district’s unique and exciting opportunities is one of the most effective ways to increase engagement during school choice season. Highlighting programs that align with students’ interests captures their attention and allows them to hit the ground running post-graduation.
STEM/STEAM programs are fantastic opportunities for students interested in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. Offering these focused learning programs boosts curiosity and exposes students to different subjects before deciding on career or post-secondary paths that hold more weight in the professional world.
Technical and career-readiness programs are also highly effective at engaging students. By offering courses such as IT, nursing, culinary arts, etc., schools demonstrate their commitment to preparing students for success, whether they move on to post-secondary education or go straight into the workforce.
Language immersion programs are also wonderful ways to culture students and provide them with unique skills as they enter a competitive professional world. Students who master a non-native language are more likely to have increased confidence, career opportunities, and cross-cultural understanding.
Incorporating these programs into your school's offerings can be an effective way to enhance student engagement. Highlighting the different opportunities available at your district or school helps students and their families make informed choices and encourages them to enroll their students in your schools. Not to mention, choice programs promote soft skill training such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, which can prepare students for a broad spectrum of fields and careers.
2. Offer programs that align with your community
Providing community-relevant programs is a smart strategy for greater school, student, and community success.
For example, providing agriculture programs in a farming community would maximize the success of your school and give students working knowledge relevant to their area and prepare them for in-demand jobs. This example can be replicated for any type of community and are a great way to maximize the success of all parties involved.
Most importantly, offering programs that are relevant in the community improves family and student engagement, leading to increased enrollment and improved educational outcomes. It's essential to work closely with community leaders and members to identify demand when considering which programs to offer–this guarantees that programs are relevant and effective and that they meet the needs and expectations of the community.
3. Host a virtual choice fair during choice season
Consider hosting a virtual program choice fair to ensure families that cannot make in-person choice events are given the opportunity to get more information on programs and application processes.
Community engagement means meeting families where they are, and that can’t happen without accommodating those families that cannot take off work, get childcare or find transportation to attend in-person choice events.
Read our case study with Prince Williams County Public Schools and Brevard Public Schools to see how virtual program informational sessions help all students and families be best prepared for choice season.
4. Talk to your neighboring schools and districts
While some schools and districts may be familiar with sharing program information, it never hurts to reach out to institutions nearby for tips and tricks that support successful choice programs. Since schools in the same region tend to deal with similar circumstances, exchanging information with your neighbors can be beneficial for everyone involved in the conversation. Communicating wins and losses allows choice program staff to skip the trial-and-error portion of success.
Joining industry organizations to meet other professionals with similar responsibilities and circumstances can also be a good way to share wins and losses. Technology vendors that you might already partner with might have organizations where you can meet other users. Scribbles Software has a ScribCoach community where district administrators of all levels come together bi-weekly to learn more about best practices and share tips and tricks.
5. Invest in software solutions to improve application management
Managing K-12 school choice programs can be a tall order. Reviewing and managing applications for thousands of students is no small task and can even lead to greater human error during peak choice season.
Don’t miss the forest for the trees, and get the right software in place to support your administrative team and educators at the ground level. With software that streamlines document management, you can provide accessible school enrollment and program lotteries and ensure laser focus on providing the quality education that drives your school in the first place.
If your school or district is considering making the switch to a more streamlined, manageable, and secure digital choice process, check out this choice and enrollment technology guide to help your teams select the solution that best fits your school or district.
Do school choice the right way to maximize student engagement
Allowing students to choose their specific academic journey is empowering and can inspire students who aren’t satisfied with a set curriculum to find a discipline that piques their interest. Maximize the performance of your school choice programs by implementing these tips and tricks at your school or district.
Learn how districts across the country are using software solutions to improve application management by downloading The PreK-12 Technology Guide to Enrollment, Choice, and Lottery Management through filling out the form below.