Re-engaging Students Who Have Left High School

New Report from Center for Promise Reveals That Blended Learning Offers Promise as Strategy for Re-engaging Students Who Have Left High School Prior to Graduating

April 07, 2016

Study by Research Institute for America’s Promise Alliance Analyzes How Blended Learning is Faring as a Strategy to Serve Young Adults Striving to Attain Diploma and Continue Education.

BOSTON, MA (April 7, 2016) — Blended learning programs, which combine in-person and online or virtual instruction and support, have emerged as a promising way to meet the needs of young adults looking for an alternative on-ramp to a high school diploma, according to a report released today by the Center for Promise, the Boston University-based research institute for America’s Promise Alliance.

Underwritten by Penn Foster, the report, entitled “Blended Learning Offers Promise as a Strategy for Re-engaging Students,” will be presented by Dr. Jonathan Zaff, executive director of Center for Promise, and Kevin Bauman, senior director of strategic alliances and partnerships of Penn Foster, later this week in Boston at the annual meeting of the National School Boards Association.

The report demonstrates that blended learning takes many forms, but that the principal characteristic of good practice is simple: Learning environments are best tailored to the individual student as opposed to a one-size-fits-all learning environment.

“Blended learning has the potential to combine the best of face-to-face instruction, such as interaction with and support from highly qualified educators, with the customizable capabilities of online learning, including control over pace and expertly developed content and tools,” said Dr. Zaff. “Still, it is important to note that blended learning is not the only solution to the educational needs of young people, and variation in the quality of its use and implementation may inhibit its great potential.”

The Center for Promise report defines blended learning, speaks to its role in student re-engagement, reviews the relevant literature on the topic, and provides an overview of program examples from a variety of settings across the U.S. With this foundation in place, the report then pivots to several key findings aimed at identifying promising practices for how blended learning can work best. These findings are:

  • Blended learning strategies should align with the needs of re-engaged youths;
  • Blended learning can support more comprehensive re-engagement efforts;
  • Teachers and other staff are essential, but technology can augment their effectiveness; and
  • Program planning, implementation and quality assurance are key to student success.

The Center for Promise recommends that additional research is needed to better understand blended learning’s efficacy in adequately preparing high school graduates for successful transitions to post-secondary education, training and/or employment.

The Center for Promise report recognizes that when a student disengages from high school and makes the decision to leave before achieving a diploma, it is likely that the educational environment and/or the student’s personal life posed barriers to graduation.  However, the Center for Promise concludes on a hopeful note: “The literature and programs discussed in this report indicate that blended learning has the potential to address many of the challenges that re-engaged students face by providing personalized, flexible and supportive educational options.”

Copies of the complete report are available at:

About America’s Promise:
America’s Promise Alliance leads an alliance of organizations, communities and individuals dedicated to making the promise of America real for every child. As its signature effort, the GradNation campaign mobilizes Americans to increase the on-time high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020 and prepare young people for postsecondary enrollment and today’s workforce. For more information, visit http://www.AmericasPromise.org/.

About Penn Foster:
Students, employers and partner organizations rely on Penn Foster to build the skills and knowledge to power the 21st century workforce. For over 125 years, Penn Foster has been dedicated to helping people lead more meaningful and productive lives and to improving social outcomes through education. Penn Foster provides career pathways for opportunity youth and adult learners through diverse and affordable online diploma, certificate and degree programs, offered via its high school, career school and college. With more than 30,000 graduates each year, Penn Foster’s online and blended learning programs are delivered in a self-paced, competency-based model wrapped by comprehensive academic, professional and personal support and coaching. For more information, visit http://partners.pennfoster.edu/markets-served.

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