One goal of the American public school system is to offer an education to all citizens until the age of sixteen. However, for various reasons not all students succeed in this system. As a result, educators and government officials have developed alternative high schools for some of those who do not succeed in the traditional high school.
In December I conducted research on alternative high schools. The purpose of this study was to compare students’ experiences in their traditional and alternative high schools located in large urban areas. In these two settings I learned that while students may have similar reasons for leaving traditional high schools, their experiences in alternative schools are quite varied. These differences are found between alternative schools far more than they are among students in the same alternative school. In one alternative school students are very excited about their new education; in the other, students are more likely to view their placement as temporary, and look forward to returning to the traditional high school. Variables explaining these differences are found to be school “climate,” accommodation to outside work schedules, teacher attitude toward students, and personal attention in and outside the classroom. Recommendations are made for improving alternative high school experiences.
Cherie Connell, ’99 Affton, MO
Majors: French, Secondary Education
Sponsor: Richard Peterson