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  • Caissa Public Strategy

Building Relationships to Retain Students

The Challenge

A data-rich urban school district with a growing charter school saturation was showing early signs of losing students during the transition from middle to high school. Parents had increased options with the construction of two new schools, among other measures, but the district’s core issues were lack of awareness and recognition.

The Goal: Retain, Then Recruit

Our long-term goal was to help the district recruit new students through a targeted recruitment campaign. But starting off, Caissa aimed to retain 1,375 students as they transitioned from middle to high school over one school year, focusing our campaign on four high schools.  

The Work

Early in the year, the school district had surveyed more than 2,000 parents and students to determine what decisions they intended to make about their education post-middle school. Once the data was compiled, it provided a solid base on which to get started.

As parents were making choices about where the students would attend high school, we sent educational materials home with students to inform families about in-district options and how they could register.

To keep the district’s competition from getting parents to commit before neighborhood schools opened, we helped the district facilitate an online, early registration process for the next year; made the online registration portal more visually-friendly and easier to navigate; and sent out bi-weekly email blasts to remind parents about registration. Depending on the response, we also retained the possibility of being flexible about the registration deadline, if and when needed.

On multiple fronts and mediums, including website landing pages, email newsletters, social media and materials sent home, we educated families on their expanded options. The STEM academy specialized in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and the fast-track technical school offered specialty subjects like a nursing program.

To directly compete with the charter schools, our communication campaign addressed what students could do afterward, such as which post-secondary and career paths previous students had chosen, with the benefit of their education. We used data like graduation rates and SAT/ACT scores to make quantitative comparisons between area charter school averages and the in-district schools.

Our Results

Caissa confirmed that 1,356 of the 1,375 targeted students, a 98% retention, were returning to the district next school year. We tracked the individual names of each student and worked directly with the district to confirm all names returned the following school year.

With the retention campaign and its strategies as a base, we are actively working with the district to develop a long-term recruitment campaign.

If you are interested in learning more about Caissa’s retention campaigns or other services, please contact us here.

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