A controversial component of the American education system, alternative education programs can at once be seen as part of the solution, and as part of the problem.
Alternative education placement can be extremely beneficial when applied correctly to students who need it, but using that placement as a discipline method for disruptive students may be helping the schools more than the students.
What is alternative education?
Alternative education refers to educational programs that separate students struggling with academics or discipline into smaller groups that utilize a variety of different learning techniques. The goal of placing a student into alternative education is to provide them with alternative tools that ultimately see them as successful as other students.
Alternative education today
Now, alternative education is most commonly used for students who disrupt their learning environment for others, and/or show signs that often lead to failure.
Though it can be difficult to compare student success rates in alternative programs to those in traditional schooling, several research projects have attempted to analyze the effectiveness of alternative programs by measuring improvements in students’ perception of schooling and impression of personal growth.
The Study of Effective Alternative Education Programs was a research project in 2007 that analyzed three of the best alternative programs in the country. Criteria included: scholarly opinion and educational research demonstrating improvements in attendance, parent involvement and graduation rates.
Through surveys, the study found that the majority of students in alternative programs cared about their grades and liked their classes. Through interviews, the study found many personal accounts of struggling in traditional classes and finding ability to grow in nontraditional programs.