From retention to participation: Reconceptualising student involvement in education, training and employment

Year: 2006

Author: Reynolds, Peter, Ansell, David, Moore, Linda, Cavanagh, Robert, Dellar, Graham

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The implementation of the first phase of legislation to raise the school leaving age in Western Australia from January 2006 has brought numerous challenges and opportunities to key stakeholders. Students, parents/carers, employers, teachers/lecturers and educational managers have each been compelled to reappraise the manner of their interactions with systems designed to facilitate appropriate transitions for young people. Written from a systemic perspective, this paper argues that current measures for evaluating student retention (i.e. the apparent retention rate and return to school rate) have become anachronistic with the new legislation. A more fruitful - although hitherto recondite and in particular, difficult to measure concept - is the level of student participation in one or more of the options of education, training and employment now available to them. The paper proposes a range of criteria by which this may be identified and accomplished, leading to more accurate evaluations of student choices, destinations and outcomes.