Alternative Education Programs – How Do We Know What’s Working?

Presenters: LaTaunya Dunn, Consultant; Richard Googin, Consultant; Judith Hassel, Consultant, Ohio Department of Education; John Johnson, Program Manager, Rockbridge Academy, ESC of Central Ohio; Christie Owen, School Social Worker

Summary: The Alternative Education Challenge Grant Initiative, created in 1999, engages students who are at-risk of failure and are likely to drop out of school.  When designing an alternative education school program, it is imperative to focus on a range of students and issues.  Alternative education programs provide high expectations for all students, small student-to-teacher ratios and individualized learning plans.  Any program in an alternative setting allows for creative design which matches the needs of the students in the community.  Since 2005, alternative education programs have saved the state $30 million because students either advanced at least one grade level or graduated.

The education team from Rockbridge Academy (Central Ohio) detailed multiple instruction strategies for engaging at-risk students. The education team outlined seven critical program features designed around their students’ needs:

  1. Comprehensive home school drop-out continuum
  2. Consistent referral/intake process
  3. Daily structure designed to restore the disengaged learner
  4. Collaborative community/mental health service model
  5. Parent engagement throughout student placement
  6. Primary Care Team used as a core catalyst for service delivery and change
  7. Ongoing commitment to program assessment and growth

A current student shared her story and explained the differences in school settings she has experienced and how Rockbridge has provided the path for her to have a meaningful learning experience and to be on track to graduate.

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