Take a look at the chart to the right from this article: The School Cliff: Student Engagement Drops With Each School Year. However, you want to measure engagement can this really be a good trendline? Who would like to argue that if we keep doing more of the same thing, the results for student learning will improve?
I think data like this partially explain the rise in the popularity of homeschooling, unschooling, and the newly growing uncollege movement.
At some point we may well see a chart with this same trendline showing a decline in attendance in public and private schools. When we see this chart we will know that finally some major and positive changes are occurring in education.
This prospect will frighten many people at first. But, I think unless we begin to see radical changes taking place in our schools, what goes on outside of school will be more important to the future education of our students.
The kinds of changes I have in mind begin with actions like this one: Garfield Teachers Refuse to Give District Required Test. This articles recounts the power of teachers acting in concert. While this one act might not lead to anything more positive, more actions like it will. I've argued for years that teachers have immense power to affect change for the better in our schools if only they can find a way to act together. In many cases, teachers know what needs to be done to improve student engagement and learning. They are often prevented from making the positive changes that would lead to better student learning.
Without these changes in our schools more and more families will continue to flee from them and many will choose never to enter the system at all. After all, the highest number of the Gallup chart above is 76% engaged. Does that indicate that the prospect of going to school at all costs us 24% of engagement right from the beginning?
The challenge for those of us who teach in college is obvious. How do we re-engage students who have been trained for 12 years or more to be unengaged in their learning? I don't have the answer though I'm certainly open to trying I'm not sure a 2 or 4 year experience in college will succeed at this task given how similar the college classroom is to the high school classroom.