Practical ways to support student engagement

An effective school system shows that it can deliver equitable outcomes for all students (OECD, 2012). To do this, evidence is required to equip schools with the practices they need to engage students.

To help develop evidence-based best practices, in 2018 the Queensland Department of Education partnered with Deloitte Access Economics and the Queensland Education Leadership Institute to study a sample of 60 state schools that are successfully engaging their students and retaining their students while at the same time have achieved academic results.

The research identified a range of student engagement and performance support practices that are common in these high performing schools.

Rejection of deficit declarations

The top performing schools reject deficit statements for student outcomes and question negative assumptions about students. They promote a culture that values ‚Äč‚Äčevery student regardless of their circumstances or personal challenges. A ‘never give up’ attitude permeates the culture and the whole school takes shared responsibility for the success of each learner.

These schools are careful about the language they use to describe students. The strengths of the students are emphasized, not the deficits. These schools refuse to use a student’s weaknesses as an “excuse” for their results.

If a student scores below average, there is a risk that schools may rationalize such scores as being characteristic of a child’s cultural background, family situation, or socio-economic status. This is sometimes referred to as the “tyranny of low expectations”. However, our research has shown that high performing schools question such deficit thinking and rationalization and instead see these situations as an opportunity to refine their own approach to ensure each student’s success.

Adapt proven structures

We found that schools that keep their students and achieve academic results have the courage to adapt established structures to the needs of the students.

After developing a vision to help each student succeed, these schools base their resource allocation on their vision. You have the courage to move away from investing in historical programs that will not make every student succeed.

They monitor a range of data to measure the effectiveness of their investment. This includes school performance, student behavior ratings, school disciplinary data, retention rates, attendance rates, school opinion polls, and student results in the year after graduation. Taken together, this data provides ample evidence of where these schools stand in their efforts to improve student engagement, as well as providing valuable benchmarks that serve as evidence of future resource allocations.

Providing students with the “dignity of risk” to learn

Schools in this study showed that they give every student the “dignity of risk” of learning, especially students who require intensive supervision. You have high expectations and wishes for every student. Such an approach creates an environment in which every student is encouraged to engage and learn.

In addition, they offer their students a differentiated, stimulating and challenging curriculum and help them develop willingness to learn. These schools avoid “watering down” opportunities and link the curriculum to the lives and experiences of their students.

In high-performing schools, teams work together to understand students’ individual needs and allocate resources to address disadvantages. Teachers are encouraged to understand and address student misbehavior with a professional lens. The teachers’ emotional intelligence and empathy are valued at these schools, especially when they are working with vulnerable young people.

Systematisation of good practice

The results of our research highlight some of the practices that, along with academic gain, can lead to engagement of any student. While some of these practices will already be known to educators, the challenge for us is to systematize these practices in all schools. Only together can we create a fair education system and ensure that every young person, regardless of their personal circumstances, can be successful in school and life.

Questions to think about

You can use these questions to reflect on the practices in your own school:

  • What is your school team doing to demonstrate their belief that every student can be successful?
  • Does your school’s vision indicate the goals you have set yourself to engage and retain all students, including those at risk of withdrawal or early departure?
  • Does your school culture make deficit statements about student outcomes and question negative assumptions about students?
  • Does your school team work together to identify students who are at risk of disengagement and intervene early and in the right way to achieve engagement and academic results for each student?
  • How does your school monitor the impact of strategies it uses to achieve engagement and academic success of every student, especially the most at risk?
  • Does the school monitor student engagement using data from multiple sources – including disciplinary absences and other behavioral data, data from stakeholder surveys, attendance rates, feedback from students and families, data on whereabouts and transition, and data on school performance?
  • How is the privacy and dignity of students preserved when exchanging data within your school team?

References

OECD. (2012). Equity and Quality in Education: Supporting Disadvantaged Students and Schools. OECD Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1787/9789264130852-de.

Sumber : https://www.teachermagazine.com/au_en/articles/practical-ways-to-support-student-engagement

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