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There are many varieties of alternative education programs. Private out of district placements, public school within in a school models, public- separate site models and many other variations. I have had the opportunity to supervise two alternative education programs; one in an urban area (middle school) and one in an affluent area (high school).

I'm interested in what other educators consider to be innovative and essential components to alternative education programs. For instance, what do your class sizes look like? What type of work/career components do you have?

Also, are you familiar with any effective twi-light (after school) alternative program. For instance, at the high school level, students may engage in a work study program during the day, then come to school after the normal school hours to receive their core academic subjects?



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We have an alternative charter high school in a separate building from our other three traditional high schools. There are five alternative programs within our building and I teach 12th grade credit deficient students in the senior credit program. They attend school three hours per day, work in a paid employment position 20 hours per week and volunteer 20 hours per semester in the community. If all requirements are met (including 25 credits to graduate from the school district), the students graduate with their class at their home high school. There are three academic shifts: 8-11, 12-3, and 4-7 if needed. We base our discipline philosophy on the Circle of Courage: Belonging, Mastery, Generosity, and Independence. (Brendtro and Brokenleg) We have very few discipline issues due to an atmosphere of respect and a priority in establishing positive relationships with the students from day one.
Thanks for sharing. Your program seems interesting so I have a few questions for you if you don't mind:
Are the academic credit requirements the same for your students as students in the traditional h.s.?
Is the program for special education and general education students?
Also, does a staff member from your program monitor student performance at the work site?
Any on-line learning? And lastly, what types of novels do your students read?

Sorry for all the questions.


I operate a school within a school program in an urban area that functions during twilight hours.  Our program has all core subjects and includes others such as health, physical education, art appreciation, and life skills.  We also offer honors level as well as AP level courses in some subjects.  All students must participate in a community internship program each year which involves them working/volunteering in the larger community in order to successfully graduate.


To me, the most important component of any alternative program is the staff.  Alternative teachers must be the best teachers you can find in your district . Connecting with alternative populations requires strong and flexible staff who are not swayed by the daily inconsistencies we get with alternative students.  Second, a competency based mode of instruction (online) has totally transformed our program making it truly meet our student's needs.  I started a blog and forum at : that describes our program in more detail.



Thanks for your post, we are getting ready to open our twilight alternative program after the holiday break! Your point about staff is well taken. Reminds me of what Collins says in Good to Great, " you have to have the right people on the bus".


I checked out your blog and noticed the video clip from Ken Robinson. I came across that video a couple of weeks ago on the Educators PLN. As a result I bought his book "The Element", which is very good.


I have a couple of questions, What time does your program start? and who sets up the community based internships?


Thanks again, Ray

Our program begins at 3pm and ends at 7pm Monday through Thursday. Friday is devoted to community internship. We try to have our students initiate the relationships in the community. We feel that our life skills class (which all of our students take) provides students with the needed skills to communicate with the various business leaders. When a student is challenged by this we as a staff assist.

Thanks for starting this group



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