Docstoc

Retention and Exit Interviews Compilation

Document Sample
Retention and Exit Interviews Compilation Powered By Docstoc
					Retention and Exit Interviews:

Enrollment Section 7

   1. Is there a person or group in your school formally charged with student
      retention? Give the title of the person or group, and describe briefly the
      responsibilities assigned.
   2. Describe the key elements of your retention program.
   3. How are the retention related areas needing change or attention identified,
      and what is the process for ensuring that needed changes are
      implemented?
   4. What types of statistical or historical tracking does your school do in
      relation to retention. Attach sample reports or analyses if available.
   5. Some Waldorf schools feel a retention challenge in third grade and then
      again in the middle school years. Does your school have particular
      programs or practices that address these concerns? Describe them
      briefly.
   6. Does your school conduct exit interviews? If so, describe how the
      interviews are conducted and by whom. Attach samples of survey letters
      or standardized interview questions if available.
   7. Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your policies,
      practices and procedures in the area of retention and exit interviews.
   8. What is particularly effective in your work with retention and exit
      interviews?
   9. If you could change some aspect of your work in the area of student
      retention and exit interviews, what would you change and why?

ENR 7-1 Is there a person or group in your school formally charged with student
retention? Give the title of the person or group, and describe briefly the
responsibilities assigned.

The subject of retention and exit interviews is a sensitive one in the Waldorf
schools surveyed. Only one school could identify a person or group responsible
for student retention. And in this case it was the Enrollment Director who held
consciousness for this area by tracking retention related data, spotting trends,
and then making sure that the school as a whole was aware of any issues that
were affecting the school’s retention performance. The Enrollment Director did
not have any authority to make any change needed; his role was limited to an
advisory one to the College and Board.

ENR 7-2 Describe the key elements of your retention program.

Not one school surveyed had a formal retention program. However, schools
described several approaches that they were using to enhance retention. These
include:
Exit Interviews and Surveys -- When a family leaves the school a survey is sent
to find out the reasons for the departure. The survey letter also offers an
opportunity for the family to meet in person if they would like to share more
personal perspectives on their experience in the Waldorf school. In cases where
people do not respond to the survey an attempt is made to document the known
reasons for leaving, often times by speaking with the class teacher or subject
teachers to gather needed information.

The enrollment director compiles the information generated from these sources,
and creates statistical analyses that help to clarify the picture around reasons for
families’ departures. It is important to break down departures into voluntary (the
family chose to leave the school) and involuntary (the family was relocated due to
work or the school asked the student to leave). This distinction is important as
the school operates in a highly mobile environment in which families are
relocated on a quite frequent basis.

Parent Education – Targeted parent information evenings such as the move into
middle school or entry into first grade are very helpful in supporting retention. It
is also important to track class meetings to ensure that enough are being held in
every grade to support parents in their desire to be active participants in their
child’s education.

Grievance Processes – It is vitally important to have a clear process for families
with issues or grievances. Parents need to feel heard and truly want their
concerns to be settled. If clear processes for communication are not outlined
and reiterated frequently then the conversation will move to the parking lot and
become far more difficult to address in a healthy way.

Parent Council – An active, dynamic parent association helps parents to get
involved with their child’s schools in healthy, helpful ways. The Parent
Association can also be a helpful listening ear for parents with concerns,
providing peer to peer advice and directing new parents in the proper way to
manage difficulties with the school.

Community Meetings – Open Board meetings, annual meetings, state of the
school meetings, and other similar events help parents to see the school in the
broadest context. These meetings allow issues of wider concern to be broached
in a healthy proactive manner, and help to put a human face on those often
impersonal sounding bodies the College of Teachers and the Board of Trustees.

Community Development Office – All successful school fundraising is dependent
on a strong, committed and cohesive parent body. The school development
office must begin its work by ensuring that the school has a healthy platform on
which to build its larger outreach program, and for this reason the development
officer is particularly sensitive to issues which may threaten the stability of the
school community. A good development office is one that is well connected
within the parent community and that can help issues get directed to the body of
the school with authority to assess and act as may be appropriate.

Accreditation – The systematic review required by the accreditation process can
be very helpful in identifying issues that are affecting retention. Once identified
the accreditation response team can spearhead efforts to make the changes
identified through the accreditation process.

ENR 7-3 How are the retention related areas needing change or attention
identified, and what is the process for ensuring that needed changes are
implemented?

Most schools conduct exit interviews or send surveys to families that leave the
school as a systematic means of identifying possible causes of enrollment churn.
The College of Teachers is the body that addresses most issues raised in the
exit interviews, although at times issues such as tuition assistance and other
non-teaching matters might be referred to the administrative committee or the
Board of Trustees.

ENR 7-4 What types of statistical or historical tracking does your school do in
relation to retention. Attach sample reports or analyses if available.

Typically the Enrollment Director tracks by grade the number of students that
leave during the school year and the number of students that do not return in
September. Building a historical data base of this sort makes it possible to
answer a variety of questions such as:

       Is the retention rate in the middle school lower than it is in other grades?
       Has the retention rate in Mrs. Jones’ class been lower than the school
        norm in the last two years?
       What percentage of our students transition from the 8th grade into our own
        high school?

This data can be helpful when a school is trying to answer questions such as “Is
an investment in additional middle school teachers warranted,” or “Has a
particular class had unusually high attrition rates for the last few years?”

The enrollment reports also contain a brief explanation as to why a student left
the school. These explanations are tallied each month and at year end, and can
provide insights into other types of school wide issues such as tuition levels and
tuition assistance, campus safety, and the lack of facilities such as a gym or
computer lab.

ENR 7-5 Some Waldorf schools feel a retention challenge in third grade and
then again in the middle school years. Does your school have particular
programs or practices that address these concerns? Describe them briefly.
An evening program has been designed by one school for parents in the 1st, 2nd
and 3rd grades. The program outlines how these grades are the foundation for
the 12 years of Waldorf education. Parents are given typical progress
benchmarks and informed about the way in which remedial needs are identified
and addressed.

One school noted a weakness in its middle school math program that affected its
ability to retain students into the Waldorf high school. The school already has a
special teacher for middle school English, and is now considering adding tracks
in math and having a subject teacher for science.

In another school the parent education committee aims to bring in a variety of
speakers to address the particular concerns of parents of middle school children.
There are also joint 6th and 7th grade parent meetings to address issues of
adolescence, academic concerns, and transitions to the high school. It is also
helpful to have high school teachers attend these middle school class meetings
so that various developmental and social issues can be addressed.

One very important aspect of the middle school retention program for a school
with a high school is to have high school teachers serve as subject teachers in
the 6th, 7th, and 8th grade classes. In schools without a high school it is becoming
a more common practice to have math resource teachers and language arts
specialists to teach in the 7th and 8th grades. Another school noted that they
have a fourth main lesson teacher available in the 6th, 7th and 8th grades. This
fourth teacher teaches rotating main lessons in each grade, bringing richness to
the program. By this age it is more the student that must be satisfied with the
educational experience rather than just the parents, and the school has
strengthened its program to meet the students’ interests and desires.

A strong middle school sports program is another key in retaining students for the
high school. The 7th and 8th grade students are also included with the high
school for some assemblies, and the 8th graders are allowed to observe the
activities of High School Spirit Week.

Another school reported that its middle school class teachers meet regularly as a
group, creating a forum for discussion on issues of general concern in these
years.

ENR 7-6 Does your school conduct exit interviews? If so, describe how the
interviews are conducted and by whom. Attach samples of survey letters or
standardized interview questions if available.

In one school the Enrollment Director sends a letter to all departing families
inviting them to set up an exit interview and to speak with her. (See: Exit
Interview Cover Letter)She allows people to come to the school or to speak on
the phone. She has even visited people’s homes and met them at coffee shops
when this was most convenient for the parents. The enrollment director
completes an exit response summary (See: Exit Interview Summary) which is
forwarded to the teacher, the College chair, and placed into the student file. The
Enrollment director has a contact person on the College of Teachers, and any
sensitive issues that arise can be discussed in more detail through this contact.

In other schools exit interviews are only done when requested by a family.
These schools send a written questionnaire to each family. (See: Exit Survey)
The cover letter encourages families to schedule an interview if desired. There is
an emphasis on the school’s interest in learning from the family’s experiences
and a genuine request for their feedback either through the survey or an
interview.

Another school reported that it has Board members place a call to the families of
all graduating students, soliciting their feedback and thanking them for their years
of service.

ENR 7-7 Describe the key elements of the philosophy that informs your policies,
practices and procedures in the area of retention and exit interviews.

It is great to be able to spot problems early on rather than let them brew. Having
a really clear and frequently published process for letting problems be brought
through the right channel and getting the attention of the right body is critical.

The tone of the exit interviews must be that we are trying to learn from parents’
experiences and that we are genuinely interested in their perspectives, whether
positive or negative.

Each exit interview is structured in a way that meets the needs of the individual
parents. The intent is to create a forum where parents can speak of their
concerns directly to the school, rather than feeling the need to take unresolved
issues into a public forum.

We often tell the parents that we want to learn from their experience. This helps
parents form their responses in a way that can actually be helpful to the school.

The school’s festivals and events can help support retention. Parents don’t really
know what’s going on in the classroom, so they often judge the quality of
teaching in the classroom by their experience of the festivals and the parent
information evenings.

An effective retention program requires that a school keep its finger on the pulse
of the school community. This must be coupled with good historical data so that
when concerns surface it is possible to put them in perspective.
Every member of the school staff, faculty and Board plays an important part in
retention.
ENR 7-8 What is particularly effective in your work with retention and exit
interviews?

The school has a strong emphasis on re-enrolling students by the end of
January. In that way any significant problems that are emerging can be
addressed long before the school year ends and important inroads made in the
areas of retention.

Parent events and community meetings are effective at building retention and
community.

The school administrator has an open door policy and is very available to
parents. This helps problems to be heard early on, so that solutions can be fund
before something mushrooms into a larger issue.

The tracking of data is good, allowing the school to identify what the areas of
weakness are.

ENR 7-9 If you could change some aspect of your work in the area of student
retention and exit interviews, what would you change and why?

The school needs to develop a formal, ongoing retention program, conduct
regular exit interviews, and clarify its policies and practices in the area of
standards for achievement and student behavior.

A check off letter is going to be used as a follow up to non-responders to the first
request for an exit interview. This will allow families who are not wiling or able to
be interviewed to provide some feedback to the school.

It is sometimes difficult to know how to appropriately report sensitive information
so that the crux of the issue is clearly understood and can be looked at without
dong a verbatim transcript of the exit interview.

The school is just beginning to create a data base of historical statistics.

The enrollment coordinator collects a good deal of information, but this
information is of little value if it isn’t used. At times it feels that there is
inadequate will force among the College and Board members to proactively deal
with the issues surfaced by the data.

At times tough financial decisions must be made that affect a large number of
people such as raising tuition or reducing financial aid levels. While these
decisions must be made, it is important to create a proactive plan to reach out to
families, sharing the larger picture of the need for these changes and working to
help families feel their situations are recognized in a caring, constructive way.

It would be great to do a survey of our current families to find out what concerns
are living in the community, and be able to address those needs before someone
decides to leave.

				
DOCUMENT INFO
Shared By:
Categories:
Tags:
Stats:
views:6
posted:2/10/2012
language:
pages:7