Increasing Student Retention: How Can We Help Students?


Lainney Ballew
Thursday, March 31, 2016 - 9:45am

Why Students Drop Out

How can we help struggling students so they don’t drop out? In order to help them, we really need to identify why they are struggling and why we are losing them.

Some, but certainly not all, reasons students drop out are that they:

  • Are falling behind in class and in their grades, which makes them feel unable catch up—so they give up hope and lose motivation
  • Need to help support their families in various ways, and so they are unable to attend traditional brick-and-mortar schools
  • Feel their learning needs aren’t being met by traditional methods
  • Feel as though no one cares whether or not they succeed in school
  • Don’t understand why they are learning things in school that they feel they cannot apply to their everyday lives
  • May need to start back at the basics because they weren’t fully ready to move on to the next levels
  • Need personalized help that traditional education models just can’t offer them
  • Don’t enjoy school or learning in a traditional model

Remediation Options

Many students drop out of high school simply because they feel that they are so far behind they will never be able to catch up. These are the students who have lost all hope in themselves and the education system. Out of embarrassment, these students also don’t want their peers to know how far behind they really are.

The issue of students falling behind and being unable to catch up has become such a vital and desperate issue that some school districts now award elective credits to students who complete remediation work. In order to make time for credit recovery and remediation, schools offer struggling students schedule options before and after school, during study hall, at home, or in a variety of alternative settings; basically, any time free time in the day that can be used to catch students up will work.  

However, we know that teachers can’t possibly cover all content on all levels for every single struggling student. To ask them to do this would be asking them to do the impossible. But by utilizing non-traditional educational software designed to be adaptive to each student’s individualized learning needs in a variety of subjects, this kind of successful credit remediation is possible.

For example, our Anywhere Learning System (ALS), an online credit remediation and recovery software, has been used by many districts to both help students catch up and get ahead in elective courses. With ALS, a teacher can simply assign an adaptive assessment to pinpoint the exact skills that a student is behind on and, based on the assessment results, ALS automatically prescribes an individualized lesson plan that will meet that student’s needs. 

Prescriptive Learning

Many students have been successful with this form of prescriptive learning because the lessons start based on where they currently are in their content knowledge and then are able to continue onto the precise, next level that they need. Students are able to work through these lower-level lessons they were struggling with then, at their own pace, move on to progressively higher levels until they are on-target again. 

This form of non-traditional credit remediation and recovery can be completed whenever it fits the student’s needs as it is accessible anytime, anywhere that a student has access to the Internet. This type of accessibility is great for all students but is especially effective with non-traditional students. Not all students who drop out are the low performing students. We lose many gifted and talented students because of what life has thrown their way.

For example, a young mother of limited means trying to take care of her baby just can’t succeed in a traditional brick-and-mortar schooling environment, but being able to work from home could help keep her on track to graduation. This same idea follows for the students who have to support a family, or who have extracurricular activities that take them away from school often, or who might be sick often, or any combination of reasons that make traditional credit recovery and remediation impossible. An online program gives students the opportunity to be successful.    

By implementing a credit remediation and recovery program like ALS, the assistance this gives students to be successful can be truly life changing. Successful students stay highly motivated to continue their education.

About the Author

Lainney Ballew is a senior manager of training at FuelEd currently working to implement and lead Fuel Education product trainings for both online and blended learning educational models to educators (FuelEd clients) and FuelEd staff. She previously worked as an adjunct speech professor at Oklahoma State University and enjoys spending time in any form of classroom. Lainney holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Arts in Training and Development, and she is ABD (All but Dissertation) on her Doctorate in Adult Education.  


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