They were there There are 1.3 million fewer students enrolled in U.S. public schools in the fall of 2021 than it did before the pandemic began—a decrease of nearly 3 percent. Given that education funding is tied to enrolment, this development has serious implications for the availability of resources in our schools.
Part of this decline may be the result of changing demographics. But a lot of it can be attributed to the families that have it gave up public schools during the pandemic are choosing private schools or homeschooling for their children instead.
In addition to these losses, traditional school districts have also lost about a quarter of a million students to charter schools since the outbreak of COVID. Analysis by the National Alliance of Public Charter Schools found that charter school enrollment increased by more than 7 percent from fall 2019 to fall 2020 as families found other alternatives to educate their children.
Families have chosen to leave the traditional school system during the pandemic for a variety of reasons. For example, some were not satisfied with the quality of their children’s distance learning. Some were afraid to bring their children back when schools reopened. Whatever their motivation, it is clear that they felt that their local school system was not meeting their needs.
Encouraging families to stay in or return to local public schools is a complex task that requires a multifaceted approach. Families want educational opportunities for their children, and those opportunities must be of high quality. Partnering with an experienced provider to offer high-quality online education is one way traditional schools can provide more opportunities for students, and it’s an important strategy for attracting and retaining families.
Choice of modality
While some students fell behind during the transition to distance learning, others thrived. Giving students the flexibility to study online rather than in person can more effectively meet the needs of many families.
For example, with good teaching, online learning becomes more convenient for students who have health problems or those who feel threatened at school. This provides an opportunity for immunocompromised students or family members who are at high risk of contracting COVID. It even provides greater autonomy for students and the possibility of independent learning for those who are bored with the traditional pace of learning.
A Poll by Pew Research Center conducted in the spring of 2022 showed that 9 percent of teenagers would prefer full online education when the pandemic is over. Another 18 percent said they would prefer a combination of face-to-face and online learning. In other words, more than one in four teenagers would like to have online learning as an option in their schools. How this is a CNN story makes clear that some families sought other options for their children’s education, which included online education, once their local school system reverted to in-person instruction.
Partnering with an experienced online learning provider can help school districts empower families to get their children’s education with minimal effort. Being able to choose online instruction as their children’s education method may encourage some families to reconsider their decision to leave their local school system, while it may give others a compelling reason to stay.
Choice in learning opportunities
Online learning expands not only the modalities available to students, but also the learning opportunities too.
Many K-12 schools cannot offer the breadth of courses necessary to meet the interests of all students. They may not have the budget to offer these courses themselves, or they may not be able to find and hire teachers with the necessary experience. For example, students in rural areas are less likely have access to Advanced Placement (AP)® courses—and only half of all gymnasiums offer computer science courses.
Online add-on courses offer a compelling solution, instantly expanding the range of courses that schools can offer. This allows students to study subjects they are interested in from experienced and qualified teachers from around the world, which can be a strong incentive for families when choosing a school system. According to one studythe wide range of academic opportunities a school system can offer is a key factor when families choose to send their children to school, with the researchers writing that parents “were strongly influenced by the variety of opportunities offered by the district of their choice . “
Widening the choice is very important
Choice is the main motto in modern education. Whether it’s homeschooling, private schools, charter schools, or even neighborhood school systems, public schools face significant competition for students in their local communities — and the educational funding that follows those students.
To attract and retain families, districts must provide a wide range of opportunities for student learning. This was true even before the pandemic, and is especially true now. Providing face-to-face or in-service training is a key strategy for doing this effectively. It can make districts more attractive to families and is part of a multi-pronged approach to addressing declining enrollment.
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